An easy way to become a better bunker player (without even hitting balls)

scottie scheffler hits a bunker shot during the opening round of the 2024 rbc heritage

In today's edition of Play Smart, we look at a drill that can help you become a better bunker player — all without hitting any balls.

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Welcome to Play Smart, a regular game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.

For the weekend player, bunker shots are some of the most challenging in all of golf. It’s a shot that makes your legs quake and your palms sweaty. And if you don’t know how to properly play a bunker shot, it can wreck your scorecard.

Despite the difficulty of this shot, a majority of recreational players never practice it. Whether it be lack of access to a practice bunker, or having no understanding of how to practice the shot, it’s a skill that many players never take the time to sharpen.

If you want to take your game to the next level, practicing your bunker game is a must. And in this edition of Play Smart, GOLF Top 100 Teacher Andrew Rice shows how you can hone your bunker technique — and all without hitting any balls.

How to become a better bunker player

The key to hitting a proper bunker shot is managing where your clubhead enters the sand. You want your clubhead to enter the sand behind the ball and glide underneath it, splashing the sand and propelling your ball up and out of the bunker. To produce this contact, you need to practice making your clubhead enter the sand a few inches behind the ball.

To practice this, get in the sand and draw a line perpendicular to your stance. Then, make some swings and try to bottom out the club as close to the indicator line as possible. Your goal should be to enter the clubhead at the line and create a divot in front of the line.

“Spend a few minutes each time you’re at the course in the sand doing exactly this,” Rice says. “Carve a slice of bread out from under the ‘ball’ starting at the line and you’re in good shape.”

When you can consistently hit your club into the sand at this line, you’ll know you’re doing a good job controlling the low point of your swing arc.

When you find yourself in a bunker on the course, imagine this indicator line a few inches behind the ball. All you need to do is aim at that indicator line and try to hit your clubhead into the sand at that spot.

If you do it correctly, the clubhead will glide underneath the ball, blasting it out onto the green.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at