The trick to playing a long bunker shot? This short game wizard has you covered

While playing from a greenside bunker is tough, hitting a long bunker shot can be equally as tricky for many amateur players.

Lots of things often go through a player’s mind standing in a fairway bunker. From determining which club to use to worrying about how far they can fly it from the sand, these shots can cause serious anxiety.

But Parker McLachlin, aka the Short Game Chef, is here to calm your nerves, provide some modernized instruction, and help build your confidence anytime that you’re forced to hit a long bunker shot. Check out his advice below!

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A modern approach for hitting a long bunker shot

It’s time to retrain your mind when it comes to playing long bunker shots, with McLachlin saying the old way of thinking is to “take the clubface and square it up to hit it further. But I’m going to debunk that myth.”

“The old way of playing a long bunker shot would be taking your highest-lofted wedge and square the face. Now, the problem with squaring the face is, the second that you move the face inward, the leading edge becomes engaged. The leading edge being engaged will lead to a lot of digging [in the sand]; we don’t want that.”

McLachlin goes on to describe what he typically sees when players engage the leading edge with the sand.

“It comes out really low, they drag the handle quite a bit, and you can see how [the club] sticks into the turf. It stays in there for quite a long time, and you never get the height you’re looking for, and the ball usually doesn’t come out with a ton of spin.”

The photo below shows this old approach.

McLachlin demonstrates the old way of playing long bunker shots. GOLF.com

Rethinking how to hit a long bunker shot

This is where McLachlin says players need to reimagine the long bunker shot — and it starts with using a lower-lofted club.

“We’re going to take a lower-lofted wedge and keep it open as we hit this long bunker shot,” he says. “I’m going to go down in loft to the 52-degree. As I go down to the 52, I’m still going to keep the face open. This is going to help engage the bounce [of the club].

“This helps keep my release in the right manner, so I’m not going to be dragging the handle like I did with the square face.”

McLachlin demonstrates the reimagined approach for playing long bunker shots. GOLF.com

By keeping the clubface open, McLachlin’s club cuts through the sand much better, coming out high with a little bit of spin. This is why he emphasizes using the bounce of the club on every long bunker shot.

“Engaging the bounce is always priority No. 1 coming out of the bunker; even if we’ve got to hit a 30-yard bunker shot,” he adds. “Go down in loft and still open the face.”

For more tips from the Short Game Chef, check out McLachlin’s website.

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Nick Dimengo

Golf.com Editor