The 10 hardest bunker shots in golf (and how to hit them)
Greenside bunker shots are one of my favorite things to teach.
I wasn’t a very good bunker player in college. I didn’t understand what I was taught and didn’t get how my adjustments affected the shots. But once I started teaching, everything began to make more sense.
Once you start to understand how certain adjustments can affect the shot, playing out of a bunker will become easier for you, too.
Here are 10 different bunker shots with tips on how to hit them.
1. High lip
Bunker shots over a high lip can be intimidating, but as long as you use the proper technique they don’t have to be so scary. Start by taking a high-lofted wedge — preferably a 56 or 60 degree — and start with the face slightly open. Have the handle pointed toward your belly button and away from the target, which will increase loft and bounce. Take plenty of sand as you let the club glide beneath the ball, making sure you hold the finish.
Short bunker shots can be tricky because while you need to swing hard enough to get the ball out, you don’t want to hit it too far. Set up with a high-lofted wedge and position the ball in the front of your stance. Open your clubface and allow the club to glide beneath the ball. Swinging slower will help with keeping the ball from coming out too hot, but you need to make sure you swing hard enough to at least get the ball out.
3. Buried lie
A buried lie is not easy, but if you adjust your expectations and approach you can be successful. Position the ball at the front of your stance and drop your front shoulder so your swing is more steep. Use the leading edge and hit down into the sand behind the ball. This should pop the ball up and out of the bunker.
4. Packed sand
Sand that is packed together is common, especially when the course has lots of moisture. The technique is much like what you use for a buried lie. You want to keep the clubhead from skipping off the sand and into the ball, so you must use the leading edge to dig behind the ball. This should produce a shot that reacts very similarly to a buried lie.
5. Downhill lie
Much like a downhill lie from the fairway, you need to match your shoulder plane to the slope at address. The downhill lie will naturally de-loft the club, so choose a high-lofted wedge. Once you adjust your setup and club choice, approach the shot like you would any other bunker shot.
Long bunker shots aren’t easy, but they can be fun when you know how to approach them. Take a low-lofted wedge like a gap or pitching wedge, open the face swing your normal swing. You still want to take some sand behind the ball, but everything else will be fairly standard.
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7. Back of bunker
With the ball at the back of a bunker, you’ll need to carry the ball further to make sure you escape the sand. Use a similar technique to the one used for long bunker shots and make your main goal getting the ball out of the sand.
8. Lots of sand
When there’s lots of sand, it can be difficult to get the club through the bunker. To avoid this, you want to make adjustments to your swing so it isn’t so steep. Use a high-lofted wedge that can glide through the sand and use a more rounded backswing and follow through.
9. Ball below feet
Widen your stance as much as needed to help lower the bottom of your swing arc. Make sure to keep your posture throughout the swing, with a focus on staying low enough to get the clubhead underneath the ball.
10. Fairway bunker
Fairway bunker shots have a little different technique than greenside ones. Position the ball in the center of your sand and use a club with enogugh loft to clear the lip. Make your normal swing and try to make contact with the ball before the sand.