Bryson DeChambeau says this is the ‘most important thing’ on bunker shots

bryson dechambeau hits bunker shot on the 18th hole at pinehurst no. 2

Bryson DeChambeau clinched the U.S. Open with an excellent shot from the bunker on the 18th hole.

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When Bryson DeChambeau‘s ball scurried into the bunker guarding Pinehurst No. 2’s 18th green, it looked like the 124th U.S. Open would need a playoff to decide a champion.

The long bunker shot has long been deemed the most difficult shot in golf — and around Pinehurst No. 2, things get even trickier. Getting the ball to stop near the hole on the turtleback greens is tough from the fairway cut, let alone out of the sand. Add in the pressure of the 72nd hole of a U.S. Open and it looked all but certain DeChambeau would make bogey and force extra holes.

Then, his caddie, Greg Bodine, stepped in with some advice.

“[He told me], ‘You can do it,'” DeChambeau said. “‘You got this shot. I’ve seen way harder shots pulled off from you.'”

Bodine was right. Moments later, DeChambeau stepped up and hit what he called the “shot of his life.” The ball rolled up within five feet of the cup, and his second U.S. Open title was all but secured.

How was DeChambeau able to pull off such a difficult shot in such a big moment? Because he’d practiced shots like that hundreds of times before.

Control your distance from the sand

The hardest part of getting bunker shots close to the hole is controlling your distance. The margin for error in the sand is thin, and a fraction of an inch can be the difference between a makable putt and leaving it in the bunker. However, if you follow DeChambeau’s advice, you can make controlling your distance from the sand a little bit easier.

First and foremost, you’ve got to stay committed. That means making sure you swing hard at the ball to hit the proper shot. Next, you need to enter the sand behind the ball to blast it out and on to the green.

“Three or four inches behind the ball,” DeChambeau says. “I’m really going to try to enter that far behind with an open face.”

How far open should the face be? Well, it all depends on how far you want the ball to go. If you want the ball to go a little bit further, square up the face, and as you try to take off more and more distance, open the face more and more.

“Being aggressive with a semi-open face is the most important thing,” DeChambeau says.

Manipulating the loft of the club is the best way to control your distance on these tricky bunker shots. Opening the face will shoot the ball out higher and with less distance, while a more square face will give you a little more distance.

“You wanna make sure you’re hitting three inches behind the ball each time,” DeChambeau says. “But make the loft control distance and height.”

We can’t guarantee you’ll win a U.S. Open if you follow these tips, but it should make you a better bunker player in the meantime.

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