The golfer should take the following steps to get out of a bunker every time:
- Open up your lob wedge or sand wedge
- Splash the sand out of the bunker
- Maintain your speed throughout the swing
The bunker shot in golf doesn’t have to be difficult. It will take the right technique and actually investing some time practicing the bunker shots.
Once you use the 3 easy steps above, you can quickly become proficient in bunker shots. Many of the better golfers actually prefer a bunker shot over a ball in deep rough or a thin fairway due to the predictability out of the bunker.
Too many golfers fear the bunker shot from past experiences, but gaining the confidence of actually seeing the ball fly out of the bunker a reasonable distance can help big time when you get to the course and are faced with a difficult bunker shot.
I have a great level of comfort in the bunker from many years of experiencing and keeping the process simple int he bunker. I also have played plenty of golf with friends who struggle and absolutely fear the bunker shot. I will see shots flying way past the green (too much speed and hitting it thin) or leaving the ball in the bunker (stalling or lack of speed).
If either of these two issues above sound like you, make sure you check out some details on the 3 steps listed above.
Below, I will dive into the topic of getting out a bunker every time!
#1: Open up your lob wedge or sand wedge
The golfer will want to use a lob wedge or a sand wedge on just about every greenside bunker shot. Unless the shot is of 30 yards or more, either of these two wedges will work and get you headed in the right direction. We want to open the club face up a bit and allow the loft to be our friend. Many bunkers can sit below the putting surface, so the extra loft is oftentimes essential to hitting a quality shot.
Be careful not to open the club too much and expose the bottom of the club to the ball. You still need your club to enter the sand and utilize the sand to throw your ball out of the bunker.
Recently, I was watching a friend attempt to play a bunker shot and he had his club face so far open he had very little chance of executing the shot. We don’t want it square, but we also don’t need it wide open.
#2: Splash the sand out of the bunker
The best two images I can think of for hitting a bunker shot include:
- Try hitting sand onto the green and utilizing the sand to propel your ball onto the green.
- Imagine a dollar bill sitting underneath the golf ball, you want to enter the sand at the beginning of the dollar bill, which would be several inches behind it.
The key here is is not too much sand, but enough sand to propel the ball on the green.
One of the common misunderstandings in the game of golf with bunker shots is that the club doesn’t actually hit the golf ball on a bunker shot. Instead, you are using the sand to throw the ball up onto the green.
If you hit down and thru the shot enough, the sand will have enough momentum to get the ball on the green!
If you dig too much, you will not have enough sand and if you get nervous at the last minute and come out of the shot you will not enough hit sand.
Once again, think of splashing the sand and the ball out of the bunker and onto the green!
#3: Maintain your speed throughout the swing
Oftentimes there is one of two things that will happen:
- The golfer gets anxious and swings quick and fast through the hitting zone, leaving very little margin for error. They often fear leaving the golf ball in the bunker. Too close to the ball and it will go flying over the green. Too far behind the ball and you will get stalled out.
- The golfer gets anxious and stalls through the hitting zone. Oftentimes, they are fearing the shot that flies way over the bunker and at the last minute stalls or slows down through the hitting zone. If you catch the sand too thick, you will leave it in the bunker. There is very little distance control with this approach.
Instead, maintain your speed at a more consistent rate and keep a smooth tempo. Some golfer can have a slight hit in the shot to produce some additional spin and to get the ball to check up.
Final Thoughts: Find Your Method
The three tips above are great starting points. There are different ways to hit a bunker shot. Some golfers prefer to have an abbreviated follow through and have more of a strike, while other prefer to have a longer, smoother flowing swing out of the bunker.
Some golfers prefer to hit close to the ball and impose some spin on the golf ball, while others prefer a bit of a chunk and run with less spin. Some golfers can hit both shots.
The bottom line is to find a bunker at a practice facility and test out the different options using the 3 key principles above. Keep in mind that some golfers use an open stance, while other use a closed stance. Some use a cut swing, while others keep the swing inside.
What all good golfers do is open that club face, splash the ball out of the bunker onto the green and maintain the right speed through the shot.
Keep in mind that the goal is to get the ball out of the bunker and onto the green. At first, maintain your expectations and be satisfied with a 2 putt bogey and head to your next hole. After a while, you will get better in the bunker with enough practice and start saving some pars at least 30% of the time before progressing to around 50% of the time (scratch level).
- Can you use a lob wedge in the sand?
- How to play a bunker shot out of wet sand?
- Lob wedge vs sand wedge
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