Stuck in a deep bunker? Tour pro explains the secret to escaping

scenic shot of the greenside bunker on the 16th hole at PGA West

Hitting out of a deep bunker can feel impossible, but with the right technique, you can escape.

Getty Images

This week’s PGA Tour event at PGA West has one of the most daunting bunkers in pro golf. Just left of — and below — the 16th green sits a bunker that looks like you’d need a ladder to climb out of.

The sand sits 18 feet below the putting surface, and any time a player goes into it, they’re hoping to get out of it in just one shot. Hitting it near the stick is merely a bonus.

Pros can make most shots look easy, but hitting out of this famed bunker is anything but. Even with the proper technique, escaping this trap is treacherous.

The secret to escaping a deep bunker

The first — and perhaps most important — step for escaping a deep bunker is club selection. And while you might think you need to use your highest-lofted wedge (often times the 60 degree), PGA Tour pro Adam Hadwin says you should use something with a little bit less loft.

“I’m going to use a 56 degree because I’ve got to get the ball so far out of here,” Hadwin says. “A 60? Yes, the loft gets it up, but I can’t carry it far enough onto the green.”

Parker McLachlin, AKA Short Game Chef, shows GOLF Editor Nick Dimengo the tricks to hitting out of deep bunker shots with more success
I *finally* learned how to escape deep bunkers thanks to this short-game expert
By: Nick Dimengo

With the sand wedge, you can still get the ball airborne, but you’re also able to get the distance you need to get the ball to the green.

With the proper club selected, remember to get a wide and stable stance. Open the clubface to add as much loft as possible, and lower the handle to give yourself even more loft.

From there, remember your basic bunker tips — full swing, hit behind the ball, accelerate through the shot — and let the club do the work. The ball should shoot up out of the deep bunker, giving you a chance to save your par.

For even more tips on escaping deep bunkers, check out our video with Parker McLachlin — aka The Short Game Chef — below.

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