Beginners usually despise the dreaded bunker shot, while pros tend to favor it and consider it one of the easier positions to be in and shots to make. So, why don’t we make it simpler to learn how to hit a bunker shot?
With the right technique and a little practice, you can master this shot and turn a potential hazard into a scoring opportunity. Or, at the very least, just get out of the bunker in one shot. 😉
How to Hit a Bunker Shot in Dry/Soft Sand?
1. Choose the Right Club
For most bunker shots, especially those close to the green, a sand wedge is ideal. This club has a wider sole and more bounce, which helps slide the clubhead under the ball without digging into the sand.
2. Understand the Bounce
The ‘bounce’ refers to the angle between the leading edge of the clubface and the lowest point of the club’s sole. This design allows the club to glide through the sand rather than dig. Ensure you utilize this bounce when playing a bunker shot.
3. Set Your Stance
Place your feet shoulder-width apart and dig them slightly into the sand for stability. This also gives you a feel for the sand’s depth and consistency. Your weight should be slightly forward, favoring your lead foot. Your lead knee is straight over your lead foot. The ball should be aligned with your front heel. Stay still throughout the swing.
4. Open the Clubface
Before you grip the club, open the clubface slightly. This action adds loft and allows the bounce to work effectively.
5. Aim Left
If you’re a right-handed golfer, aim your feet and shoulders slightly left of the target. This adjustment compensates for the open clubface.
6. Maintain a Steady Head and Spine Angle
Your head should remain still during the swing, and your spine angle should remain consistent. This stability ensures a consistent angle of attack into the sand.
7. Swing Along Your Body Line
Your swing path should follow the alignment of your feet and shoulders. Even though your clubface is open, swinging along your body line will direct the ball towards the target.
8. Hit the Sand, Not the Ball
This might sound counterintuitive, but you’re actually aiming to strike the sand about one to two inches behind the ball. The force of this action propels the sand forward, and the ball rides on the cushion of sand out of the bunker. Look at the sand not the ball.
9. Follow Through
Complete your swing with a full follow-through. Ensure your chest is facing the target at the end of the swing. This ensures that you’ve given the shot enough momentum to get out of the bunker.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
Like any golf shot, consistency comes from repetition. Spend time in the practice bunker, trying shots from different distances and sand depths.
Here is my favorite video for both bunker shots out of dry and wet sand:
How to Hit a Bunker Shot In Wet/Hard Sand?
Playing golf on hard sand can be a challenge, especially in the early morning when the sun hasn’t warmed it up. It can also be a problem on poorly maintained courses where the sand is consistently hard.
So hitting a bunker shot out of wet/hard sand presents a unique set of challenges compared to playing from dry sand. Wet sand is denser and more compact, which can cause the club to bounce or skid if not approached correctly. However, with some adjustments to your technique, you can effectively escape from these tricky situations. Here’s how:
1. Select the Right Club
While a sand wedge is usually the club of choice for bunker shots, wet sand might require a club with a bit less bounce, such as a pitching wedge or a lob wedge, depending on the shot distance and the height required.
2. Assess the Sand’s Consistency
Before setting up for your shot, use your feet to get a feel for how wet and compact the sand is. This will give you an idea of how the club will react upon impact.
3. Adjust Your Grip
A slightly firmer grip can help prevent the club from twisting if it encounters resistance in the wet sand.
4. Ball Position
Place the ball slightly back in your stance compared to a regular bunker shot. This will help you hit down on the ball and avoid too much sand.
5. Square or Slightly Open Clubface
Unlike dry sand where you’d open the clubface considerably, for wet sand, you want to square the clubface or open it just slightly. This ensures that the leading edge cuts into the sand and avoids bouncing off the firmer surface.
6. Steep Angle of Attack
You’ll need a steeper swing path to ensure you get under the ball. Focus on hinging your wrists early in the backswing to create a more vertical swing plane. Dig into the sand.
7. Strike Point
Aim to strike the sand about an inch behind the ball. Since the wet sand won’t provide the same cushion as dry sand, it’s crucial not to get too much sand between the clubface and the ball.
8. Commit to the Shot
Wet sand requires more force to move the ball the same distance. Thus, ensure you have a committed and slightly more aggressive swing than usual. However, be cautious not to overswing, which can lead to a loss of control.
9. Follow Through
Despite the increased resistance from the wet sand, ensure you have a complete follow-through. This will aid in generating enough momentum to get the ball out of the bunker.
10. Clean Your Club
Wet sand can stick to your clubface, potentially affecting future shots. After your shot, make sure to clean the grooves and face of your wedge.