Ever since I started playing golf nearly 30 years ago, I always feared bunker shots. It wasn’t that I struggled hitting out of the sand, it was that I had no control of my shots. In my mind, just getting out was good enough. If my ball happened to land anywhere near my target, it was a major success.
Then I met Parker McLachlin, aka the Short Game Chef, who completely changed my mindset about playing from the sand.
In this episode of Pros Teaching Joes, McLachlin shows me the tricks to hitting out of deep bunkers. He provides me a quick and easy lesson about setting up properly, ball positioning, and clubface angle, giving me the tools to hit better shots from the sand — and with a little spin for good measure!
Take a look at his tips below, and see how they can change your bunker approach.
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Cleveland Golf CBX Full-Face Wedge
Tips for escaping deep bunkers
First off, let me tell you how intimidated I was stepping into the deep bunker with McLachlin. As a 14-handicap, there are few traps I’ve even seen that menacing, let alone ones that I’ve successfully hit out of.
But with the proper approach from McLachlin, I didn’t just hit out of it, I dominated it! Here’s how you can do the same.
Dramatically open your clubface
By dramatically opening my clubface, McLachlin ensured more control of my deep bunker shots. Instead of fearing to overhit the ball and sail the green, the new clubface angle ideally removes that possibility.
“I’ve pretty much taken long out of play, so you don’t have to be afraid of going long anymore. Now you can swing as fast as you want, and smack the sand as hard as you want, without the fear of it going long like it did before. That’s our goal.”
Dig your feet in and make an extra wide stance
After hitting my shot out of the bunker — on the first try, I might add — McLachlin reassured me that the main reason was due to my setup and my wider stance. Getting low gave me more leverage to cut through the sand to get beneath the ball; something I couldn’t do with a more straightened posture.
“You want to get wide in here, number one, to lower your hands, but, number two, you want to create a stable base,” added McLachlin. “I’m not using my legs a ton in this shot; they’re there for support. I’m really using my arms and my hands, which are my main weapons in the bunker.”
Lower your handle for added loft
Like most amateurs probably do, I was trying to replicate my setup while inside the bunker the same way I would for shots from outside of it. But McLachlin quickly corrected this, showing me to lower the handle in my stance, which, in effect, causes the clubface to stay open in order to get under the ball.
“It’s added loft to the club, which will make the ball go higher,” McLachlin said. “The closer you are [with the club] to it, all of a sudden, this ball is going to come out fast. So we want to find a happy medium to add loft to address.”