How To Hit Out of Sand Trap (5 Tips)

The sand traps on a golf course can be one of the most difficult places to be.

Many amateur golfers struggle to hit quality shots, often ruining a round of golf and leading to a devastating score on a hole.

Amateur golfers try to avoid the sand traps at all cost, while the professional golfers actually see the shot as rather simple.

I am sure you have seen it or experienced it before.  The golfer struggles to even advance the ball two feet (chunked shot) or a shot that goes 30 yards past the green (bladed shot) leading to embarrassment and frustration.

I have good news for you!  It doesn’t have to be that difficult.  With our 5 simple tips below and some practice on your end, you should be able to get the ball up and onto the green and give yourself a chance for par.

How To Hit Out of Sand Trap (5 Tips)

  • Use the sand
  • Setup slightly open
  • Open the clubface
  • Understand the sand
  • Keep your pace
Sand traps, like the ones left of the green here, require you to use loft. Don’t be afraid to open the club face and swing hard.

Tip #1: Use the Sand

The sand is your friend in a greenside sand trap.  Use the sand to help you get the ball out of the sand trap and onto the green.

Did you know that club is never going to touch the ball on a greenside sand trap?  Yes, you read that correctly.  The sand is actually going to throw the ball out of the sand.  You are going to use the sand by hitting behind the ball to propel the ball out of the sand trap and onto the green.

This is one of the only times in golf you actually try to miss the ball.  Depending on the thickness of the sand, you are going to hit 1 to 2 inches behind the ball and through the ball to get the sand moving and propel the ball onto the green.

The best visual is if you take a dollar bill and place the ball in the center of it.  You should enter the sand at the backside of the dollar bill and exit on the front side.  Taking a quality divot and using the sand to your benefit.

Too many golfers fear the sand, but instead you need to get comfortable hitting down and through the sand.  

When you are practicing these shots, you can draw a line 1-2 inches behind the ball and keep your eyes on that line, trying to get the club to enter the sand on the line.  Of course when you are playing an actual round, you are not allowed to touch the sand with the club or draw a line in the sand until you are actually making your stroke on the ball.

Related Post: How to use a 60 degree wedge (Keys and Tips)

Tip #2: Setup Slightly Open

When you get into the sand, go ahead and pick your target and aim your feet slightly to the left or open.  This will help produce a little cut shot that will help you get down into the sand and through the sand.  You will want to swing along your stance line. 

As you advance in your sand play, you might not always use this stance, but as you begin this is the safest, go-to shot you can use to ensure you get the ball out of the sand trap and onto the putting surface.

Related Post: When to use a 60 degree wedge

Tip #3: Open the Clubface

Don’t be afraid to open that clubface and use the loft as your friend.  Many high handicap golfers get scared of using loft, but the loft will help you get the ball in the air.  It also allows the bounce of the club to be used properly and enables you to take an aggressive swing.

Many sand traps often sit below the putting surface with a big front edge between you and the green.  The extra loft will give you enough height to ensure you don’t leave the ball in the sand trap.  Remember, the number one goal here is to get the ball on the putting surface.

As far as what club you should use, I would recommend a wedge between the 56 and 60 degree range.  Loft is your friend, use the loft on the wedges in this range.  These clubs are also designed with the right amount of bounce to get the club through the sand and keep it from digging.

Related Post: 11 Golf Drills for Chipping

Tip #4: Understand the Sand

Unfortunately, the sand conditions are going to be different from golf course to golf course and even from hole to hole on some of the poorly maintained golf courses. . Of course rain and weather conditions can also impact the sand.

When you get into the bunker and start to set up your shot, go ahead and dig your feet into the sand slightly and get a feel for the amount of sand under the ball.  The more sand there is the more fluffy the sand is, which means you might need some additional speed through the shot as your club will slow down more upon impact with the sand.

If you get into a bunker with very little sand or compact sand due to recent rain, it will be important to hit a little closer to the ball.  Another option is to swing with a shorter follow throw and a more punch-like swing.  This keeps the speed going and keeps you from skipping the club across the sand and contacting the ball.

Whatever you do, make sure you maintain your speed throughout the swing.

Tip #5: Keep Your Pace

The golf swing that is most devastating in the sand is the swing where the golfer slows down prior to getting to the ball.  This can often be a result of hesitation and a lack of confidence.  Strike the sand like you are striking a match.  Be confident and keep your pace through the shot.

Over time you will experience different lies and stances in the bunker.  Two of the most important basics are hitting the ground before the ball and maintaining your pace.  Of course, you want to be confident on these shots as any hesitation often leads to disaster.  

Gain confidence out of the bunker by practicing and gaining confidence.

Next Steps: Practice

I would highly encourage finding a practice area with a bunker.  Of course, you might want to aim away from others if there are people in the area, but go ahead and get used to the sand and gain confidence with hitting shots out of the sand.

Practice a 10, 20 and 30 yard bunker shot as a frame of reference for how hard you have to swing to get the ball to exit the sand and fly that distance.  Also try a low, medium and high lofted shot by opening the club face and playing with the loft.  These different variations will help you succeed the next time you are in the sand trap on a golf course.

Helpful Post: How to practice chipping at home (8 Drills)

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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