Use this technique to make bunker shots off an upslope a breeze

rory mcilroy hits out of bunker

Pros make hitting off an upslope in a bunker look easy.

Getty Images

You’re on an upslope in a bunker, a very common hazard lie. Most weekend players, wary of falling backward when they swing due to the pull of gravity in this situation, typically tilt their shoulders into the hill (lead shoulder lower than the trail). It kind of makes sense but more than likely will lead to a dig and a second attempt from the sand. 

Some players choose to align their shoulders with the slope (lead shoulder higher than the trail). It’s a better start, but, unless you make one final adjustment, you’re more than likely to fall back on your downswing, inviting a scull (and a follow-up chip from the far side of the green). 

man demonstrates bunker technique
Setting up on a sloping bunker lie by tilting your upper body into the hill invites a dig. Simply tilting your shoulders the other way can invite a scull. Tilting your upper body with the slope while also “pressing” your lower body into the hill is best. Stephen Denton

The correct way is to, yes, tilt your shoulders to match the slope you’re standing on (lead shoulder above trail shoulder), then “press” into the hill with your lower body by jutting your lead knee ahead of your lead foot. The combo sets your club on the correct path while also negating the effects of gravity (i.e., no falling backward on your downswing). 

The result: smooth sand shots that pop up nice and high and land soft. Works every time. 

Todd Sones is a GOLF Top 100 Teacher who operates the Todd Sones Impact Golf schools at the Arboretum GC in Buffalo Grove, Ill.

generic profile image Photographer