Bunker shots are a source of consternation for many golfers, but especially beginners. Though it seems intimidating, extracting your ball from the sand isn’t that difficult once you get the hang of it! If you’re struggling, here are three simple ways to get out.
1. Think of the shot as a chip
I coach my clients by explaining that bunker shots are not completely different situations on the golf course but rather, sand is just another surface to play off of, and a much softer one at that!
Next time you practice, try using the same chipping technique you use off the grass around the green in the bunker with one change: swing your arms and club a bit faster. Once you try it out, then try experimenting with a sand wedge, pitching wedge, 9-iron and 8-iron. You may find you’ll not only be able to get out of a bunker more easily, but you could also identify a new skill: the ability to execute long bunker shots too.
2. Use your putter!
I know this may seem strange, but sometimes you just have to get out. When you walk into the bunker and evaluate your lie, see if there’s a low lip around your ball. If there is, try putting it out. Yes, you will give up accuracy, but on the bright side, you’ll be out of your current situation.
3. Employ a mini swing
Think about using a short fast swing, instead of a full swing. It can feel confusing to try to make a full swing so close to your intended target. And professional golfers don’t always use a full swing to hit their greenside bunker shots, so why do you? It also helps to try incorporating your wrists more in the swing to help generate the speed you need to get out. (Check out how Ole Miss player Jackson Suber gets it done in the video below).
Sarah R. Stone, PGA, is the Director of Instruction at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland.