10 ways to guarantee you get out of a greenside bunker

Escaping greenside bunkers is tough, so use these tips for more success.

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Greenside bunkers can make or break a round, as they present challenges to any player — regardless of skill level.

But instead of fearing the sand, there are plenty of different ways to improve your bunker play. It just comes down to understanding both your strengths and weaknesses.

Since technique always matters when hitting from a greenside bunker — and your setup, angle of attack, and clubface matters more in a bunker than in other spots on the golf course — the below tips provide ways to improve your play from the sand. Lower scores should follow. Take a look!

10 tips for getting out of greenside bunkers

1. Use the right tool

When you hit a greenside bunker shot, you want to use a club that has a rounded bottom; called bounce. Bounce will allow the club to glide across the sand and avoid digging into it.

Generally speaking, the three clubs with bounce in your bag would be the lob wedge, sand wedge and gap wedge. So if you have one (or all three!), consider these as your first options when hitting from the sand.

2. Use the bounce

Now that you know what bounce is, make sure to use it!

When the club glides across the sand and doesn’t dig, it allows the shot to throw both sand and the ball as you come through contact.

Make sure that your clubface is square to slightly open, and that your club shaft doesn’t lean forward towards the target. If your clubface is twisted or closed, or you lean the shaft too much, you can easily negate the bounce. This will make the club dig and get stuck.

My new Ping Glide wedges are awesome options for the sand, as they have a lot of bounce and glide with perfection.

3. Move the ball position forward

By positioning your ball forward, you put yourself in better spot to hit the sand before the ball — which is correct for getting out of a greenside bunker. If you incorrectly position your ball to the center or the back, you risk hitting the ball first, which can either lead to it traveling way too far or not even clear the lip of the trap.

4. Dig in your feet

Get yourself a nice base by digging into the sand, which helps lower the bottom of your swing. By doing this, your clubhead can enter the sand before contacting the ball — which goes back to the glide I mentioned earlier.

When digging in, the depth should be to the point that the soles of your shoes disappear.

5. Make a full swing

Since sand is so coarse, you’ll need to really make sure you take a full swing when hitting from it. Unfortunately, many amateurs are afraid of doing this, fearing that they’ll fly the green if they make solid contact.

However, if you’re following the necessary technique and engaging the bounce, you should be hitting the sand first and then the ball, eliminating potential errors.

If you watch the best players in the world, they take a full swing out of greenside bunkers. You should follow their example.

6. Match your technique with your club speed

Teaching bunker shots is one of my favorite lessons, as I believe it takes personal attention and technique.

For instance, high clubhead speed golfers may need to make more adjustments and use more lofted options — like a lob wedge. On the contrary, lower clubhead speed golfers will make fewer adjustments, and their swing will nearly mirror that of a regular full swing, but with a less lofted club — like a gap wedge.

7. Get really good at throwing sand

This is where the most practice might need to occur, because many students are afraid of chunking shots from greenside bunkers. But you must change your mentality, because you’re supposed to hit the sand!

If you can get really good at throwing sand onto the green, you’ll see instant improvements from bunkers.

By throwing the sand out, you will be less likely to make an incorrect lifting motion, allowing your club to properly glide into the sand.

8. Speed control

Once you’re proficient at taking sand on a regular basis, you’re more likely to swing with enough speed to spin and lift the ball out of the bunker. I think it can be helpful to practice greenside shots right after you warm up with your full swing, as you’ll have that motion and rhythm already in your head.

Remember, you should be using the same swing speed in the bunker as you would during your regular full swing.

9. Take the path of least resistance

If you aren’t the most confident bunker player, always look for the quickest path to the putting surface. Your goal should be to simply get the ball out of the sand.

Once you get more consistent with your shots out of the bunker, you can learn to be more of a pin-seeker.

10. A little practice won’t hurt

Golf is hard, so spending time practicing greenside bunker shots will go a long way in building your confidence.

Work on your setup. Dig your feet in. Open your clubface. Get really good at hitting the sand. These are all things that will instantly improve your play from the sand.

Once you get the feel for solid contact, then advance to distance control. Try different clubs — like a lob wedge, sand wedge, or gap wedge — and start building your own yardage chart for greenside bunkers.

Greenside bunkers don’t have to be so intimidating. With practice, some basic fundamentals and the right club selection, you’ll learn how to escape them with ease, which will give you more confidence — and help keep strokes off your scorecard.

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