Padraig Harrington reveals the secrets to hitting out of hard and soft sand

Padraig Harrington, a three-time major champion, knows a thing or two about playing out of bunkers.

@padraig_h on Twitter

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington has taken to Twitter to keep golf fans entertained – and to help them improve their games.

So far, Paddy has dished out quality lessons on chipping, breaking 80, and incorporating your hands, arms and wrist into your swing (although that one went haywire). Now he has a new helpful tip for golfers everywhere: the secrets to, and differences between, playing out of hard and soft sand.

padraig harrington swings
Here are 7 at-home drills from Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington
By: Zephyr Melton

For many amateurs, sand traps and bunkers are intimidating and present a true challenge. Pros, on the other hand, have mastered shots from the sand, and often prefer landing in bunkers than rough around the green. And there’s no better choice among pros than Harrington to pass the secrets to their success on to the masses.

But Paddy’s latest lesson isn’t about learning bunker basics (which he’s covered before). In this video he addresses the unique challenges presented by different sand conditions.

Harrington begins by explaining that there are “two distinctly different ways” to play shots from bunkers with a lot of sand and ones with very little sand.

Let’s start with the more difficult of the two, playing out of soft sand.

“Playing out of a lot of sand is incredibly difficult,” Harrington explains, “Professional golfers are extremely frustrated if we go to a golf course with too much sand because we get no control.”

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to successfully navigate bunkers with too much sand. As Harrington demonstrates in the video, the secret to making short work of fluffy lies is to open the clubface and expose the bounce as much as you like, then swing hard to help it get up in the air.

Padraig Harrington hits a golf shot.
Padraig Harrington’s latest backyard lesson backfired in hilarious fashion
By: Josh Berhow

The key to hitting out of hard sand, the easier of the two options, is to lean left and make sure you don’t open the clubface. Opening the clubface in this scenario would increase bounce and cause you to top or knife your shot over the green, so you have to keep it square.

Interestingly, whether you’re playing out of fluffy or firm sand, Harrington suggests always making contact at the same point behind the ball, instead of moving the contact point forward or backward.

Check the full bunker lesson from Harrington below.

Kevin Cunningham Editor

As managing producer for, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.