Use this clever ‘ice-cream-scoop’ bunker technique to escape firm sand

jonathan yarwood hits bunker shot

Bunkers aren't in perfect shape during the winter, but you still need to be able to escape them.


Winter golf isn’t always pretty. The courses are dormant, your game is rusty and the weather rarely cooperates. It’s the worst few months of the year for golfers.

But that doesn’t mean diehards are just going to stop playing for a few months. It just means that a few adjustments need to be made to keep playing through the offseason. One of those adjustments comes in the form of bunker technique.

In the winter, maintenance on the sand can be sparse, and with added moisture, the traps can get packed down and firm. With these conditions, it’s impossible to use a normal bunker technique to blast out the ball. Instead, you have to get a little creative.

Luckily, GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jonathan Yarwood has the perfect solution for such a shot. And he likens this technique to that of an ice-cream scoop.

“It’s different to a lot of the other bunker shots,” Yarwood says. “With a normal bunker shot, you’re trying to let the club skid to use the bounce. With this shot, you actually want to use the front edge. I call it an ice-cream scoop shot.”

With the sand packed together so tightly, you can’t use the bounce to let the ball glide underneath the ball. If you try that technique, you’ll quickly end up blading the ball out of the bunker. Instead, you need to engage the leading edge to scoop into the sand and blast the ball out.

“It’s very similar to how we changed the bunker shots when I coached at Augusta to when I coached at the British Open,” Yarwood says. “The sand at the British Open is much more coarse so you have to dig much more and use the front edge. Where as the sand at Augusta is fluffier and you have to use the back edge to let it skid.”

To execute the shot, you should lean onto your forward foot and grip down on the club. Close down the clubface and then make a steep takeaway to the top with massive wrist hinge. On the way down, try to hit the sand behind the ball and unhinge your wrists at impact to scoop into the sand and blast the ball out.

If done correctly, the ball should explode out of the sand and come to rest safely on the green.

“You’re never going to mishit it,” Yarwood says. “And it’s also got spin on it.”


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