Backswing RoundUp

What's your best advice for golfers that always struggle with bunker shots?

What's your best advice for golfers that always struggle with bunker shots?
For some golfers, the bunker can be their worst nightmare. We asked our professionals for some advice on how to successfully escape a bunker and save you some strokes.

29 Professionals Contributed

The most important key is to trust your swing and stay relaxed.

Bunker shots are really quite simple. Keep your grip pressure soft and swing easy! Let’s face it, you have a sandwedge which has lots of loft, and loft is your friend. Take a few practice swings on the outside of the bunker, in some soft, fluffy grass. Tell yourself to swing with smooth tempo. Keep your grip pressure soft and use your wrists as you make these practice swings effortlessly, in the green grass, aside the bunker. Take some deep breaths and relax. Then, slowly step into the bunker and approach your golf shot.

Visualize your swing being exactly the same inside the bunker as you rehearsed it, outside the bunker. In your mind, picture that white sand being exactly like the green grass. When your body’s alignment is slightly open to the target line and your club face is slightly open, you are ready for action! But the most important key is to trust your swing and stay relaxed. Keep your grip pressure soft, use your wrists and follow through. Do not be forceful; instead use finesse. Finish high and splash lots of sand up on the green. Your ball will follow and make its way easily to the hole. The pros on tour swing easy out of the bunker, you should too! Enjoy!

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The Country Club of Virginia

"The most important key is to trust your swing and stay relaxed." Click to Tweet

Connect the Lines

Are you struggling to get out of the bunker? Here is an easy tip to help get out of that bunker and land a soft shot right next to the flat. First, ensure that you’re able to dig in your feet. Your feet won’t move much on this shot, so be sure to anchor them in the sand. Secondly, make sure to open your stance. Next, draw a line about two inches before the ball, and one about two inches behind the ball. Then open your club face and try and connect the lines with a divot. How easy is that?

Please view the video link and then send your video to Swing Essentials for a free Virtual Lesson! Have fun on the golf course.

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PGA Golf Pro

"Connect the Lines" @SwingEssentials Click to Tweet

Put your left foot even with the golf ball and put your right toe behind your left foot and open the club face slightly.

My best advice for golfers who struggle to get out of the bunkers is to put your left foot even with the golf ball and put your right toe behind your left foot and open the club face slightly. Swing with your shoulders, maintain your balance throughout the swing and it’ll come out everytime!

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Westerville Golf Center

"Put your left foot even with the golf ball and put your right toe behind your left foot and open the club face slightly." @GolfDrDave Click to Tweet

Grip-Aim-Stance is the cure

My best advice for those who struggle in bunkers is to address the ball appropriately.

I see it often that many address with a gripped club, square face to the target and dig under the ball with the leading edge.

PROPER: Grip-Aim-Stance is the cure.

I like to have students open the face, and GRIP the club in an open position.
then AIM at their target with the open face, and have an Open STANCE. From there, it’s a simple hinge and hold in the follow through to keep the face open.

Feel like you slap the bounce of the desired wedge in hand under the ball and commit to the follow through.

Give it a try and feel free to respond with some feedback. @CastanoGolf

Spring Brook Country Club

"Grip-Aim-Stance is the cure" Click to Tweet

Double the distance

Bunker Shots Made Easier

Double the distance

Say you need a bunker shot that needs to carry 20 yards to the landing spt on the green. Align your nose, (middle of your stance) 2 inches behind the ball. Make a swing that would carry 40 yards if you were to hit the gof ball. Unless yu change something, you should strike the sand 2 inches behind the golf ball. The force of the swing should launch the ball on the trajectory of the 40 yards shot. Because you hit 2 inches behind it the ball will only carry half as far, 20 yards.

Timarron Country Club

"Double the distance" Click to Tweet

The green side sand shot is the only shot in golf we don’t want to hit the ball

One of the biggest issues I see with players struggling to get out of the sand is that they are trying to help the ball get in to the air. This motion of “helping” is what’s keeping the ball from getting airborne. Golf is a game of opposites in this respect. If you are trying to hit up on the ball it will stay down and if you hit down on the ball it will go up. The green side sand shot is the only shot in golf we don’t want to hit the ball, that means we are trying to hit this shot “fat”. We can be aggressive with a downward blow behind the golf ball.

A great way to practice this feel is to hit bunker shots without a ball. Get in the bunker and take a good bunker set up – weight on front foot, hands slightly forward of club head, club face open to path. Practice getting sand to fly out of the bunker in the direction of your intended target. If you can get sand to fly out on a consistent basis then getting the ball to come out shouldn’t be an issue.

"The green side sand shot is the only shot in golf we don’t want to hit the ball" Click to Tweet

I get them to play bunker shots with a square stance and square clubface with the handle even with the leading edge.

I find recreational players try to hit bunker shots like tour players (very open stance very open clubface) without great strength and speed this is difficult. I get them to play bunker shots with a square stance and square clubface with the handle even with the leading edge. Swing towards the target line. Don’t cut across. A high bounce SW helps.

PGA Golf Professional

"I get them to play bunker shots with a square stance and square clubface with the handle even with the leading edge." Click to Tweet

Approaching a bunker shot is different depending on the type of bunker shot.

Approaching a bunker shot is different depending on the type of bunker shot. When hitting any bunker shot though it’s always important to build a solid stance where your lower body is stable. Then, if you’re hitting a green side bunker shot, play it like a normal pitch shot, but hit a couple of inches behind the ball into the sand with only a lob wedge or sand wedge because these clubs have bounce. If you’re playing a fairway bunker shot, play the ball a little further back in your stance to promote ball first contact because in this situation you do not want to hit behind the ball.

The most important things in fairway bunker shots is first that you have enough loft to get over any lips and second that you hit the ball first. Bunker shots are dreaded by many, but when you really learn how to execute the shot, you can really predict well how the ball is going to react when it lands on the green.

"Approaching a bunker shot is different depending on the type of bunker shot." Click to Tweet

The A drill

The A drill.

Practice this drill to make sure you are getting both the knowledge and the fundamentals on how to get the most out of your bunker shots. (Draw lines in the sand for each of these).

– Set your feet up open to your target
– Open the clubface so it is pointed at your target
– Set your attack point a few inches behind the ball.

When you draw all of these lines in the sand, it should make an A shape. So when you practice this drill, you want to take out the middle part of the A. The two down lines just help guide your stance and direction. Also, just some things to follow up with this drill as well.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS hit down and stay through. Never decel, do not help the ball up. It is the same swing as a full swing.

Ball Position primarily in between front and center of your stance.

Hope this helps!!

Brookside Country Club

"The A drill" Click to Tweet

When you step in the bunker know two things:

Sand strikes fear in the hearts of many golfers. . .take a deep breath. Now, when you step in the bunker know two things. 1) the sand will slow your club down, so follow through… high. 2) hitting a little sand is okay ( fried egg size), playing the ball forward slightly will cause the ball to travel higher as well as opening the face.

Most people set up with their weight on their back foot…. putting more weight on the forward foot ( lean into the target) also helps the ball travel higher and makes the high follow through easier.

Leader Golf

"When you step in the bunker know two things:" Click to Tweet

Ball position is very important.

Ball position is very important. Front position, weight on front foot . Length of backswing controls length of forward swing. Take sand. Swing hard, but medium for a lower bunker shot. It is the easiest shot in Golf, just don’t be afraid.

Chris Rudi Golf Services

"Ball position is very important." Click to Tweet

First of all aim your clubface towards your intended line and then open your stance.

First of all aim your clubface towards your intended line and then open your stance. It’s one thing to open the face so the club won’t dig too much into the sand but get the face of the club going the right direction. Weight then favoring forward foot, set wrists early and then plug the club into the sand about an inch behind the ball. Focus on that point and don’t worry about a high follow through, the down strike will get the ball out every time. Change clubs for different distances and practice the different results. Good luck and be brave!!

"First of all aim your clubface towards your intended line and then open your stance." Click to Tweet

The most important thing about bunker play is to “enjoy” being in the bunker.

The most important thing about bunker play is to “enjoy” being in the bunker. Enjoy that your ball went into the bunker, smile and enjoy the challenge, and set a reasonable target. Don’t always go for the pin. And, if you have access, go to a beach when no one is there (Sunrise, as I do) and take 10 balls, 3 wedges, and something for a target, and hit from 10, 15, 20, and 25, and even 30 yards to the target, just focusing on the landing area. Do this for hours and hours, and enjoy the “practice” and you will be a much better bunker player.

Executive Director Brooklyn Golf Alliance

"The most important thing about bunker play is to “enjoy” being in the bunker." Click to Tweet

Try keeping the face square throughout the bunker shot

If you’re struggling with bunker shots the first thing I watch for is what the player does with the face of the club throughout the entire motion. I see lots of amateurs try and open the face wide open because that’s what they see all the time on TV. Next time try keeping the face square throughout the bunker shot. This will allow the club to cut into the sand down under the golf ball and pop out instead of a wide open face bouncing off the sand into the golf ball.

First Assistant Golf Professional at The Olde Course

"Try keeping the face square throughout the bunker shot" Click to Tweet

Draw a line in the sand with the sand wedge for about 20 feet then make the letter L on your back swing and clip the line in the sand

Draw a line in the sand with the sand wedge for about 20 feet then make the letter L on your back swing and clip the line in the sand…Go all the way for the next 20 feet “clip the line”…This line is two inches behind the ball…The secret to good bunker play is this: “sand only” the ball will be pushed out by the sand…Do this three times…

"Draw a line in the sand with the sand wedge for about 20 feet then make the letter L on your back swing and clip the line in the sand" Click to Tweet

Practice, practice, practice.

Practice, practice, practice. Without a ball, draw a line in the sand, open the face of your lob or sand wedge flat and try to hit about 2 inches behind that line. The goal is to hit behind the ball and use the sand to help blast it out. Find an instructor or online instruction to help as well!

FarmLinks Golf Club

"Practice, practice, practice." @chris_burley94 Click to Tweet

Get your weight on your left side in an impact position

Get your weight on your left side in an impact position and place the ball just inside the left instep and accelerate an inch or so behind the ball !Too many people hang weight back on the right side and ball position too far back in the stance causing the club to decelerate at impact

PGA Golf Professional

"Get your weight on your left side in an impact position" Click to Tweet

First thing we have to understand about bunker play is that there are 2 VERY different scenarios.

Greetings Golfers!

First thing we have to understand about bunker play is that there are 2 VERY different scenarios.

Fairway bunker play & Greenside Bunker play vary greatly in required technique/mechanics.

Fairway Bunkers play very similar to a standard full swing out of a tight fairway/lie. I recommend a normal setup, backswing & finish with the same club we use at that distance (unless the lip/wall in front of you is too much for that club to clear, whereas we might have to use a higher lofted club just to clear that obstruction). Though “picking” the ball is commonly discussed, we don’t ever want to top it into the wall, hence leaving the ball in the trap. We want to hit the ball first, no differently than fairway play, contacting some sand forward of the ball.

Greenside Bunkers, however, require a more customized shot more often than not. Being that the wall of the sand trap will typically be more impressive in these Greenside Bunkers, we need immediate height, which is only produced when using larger type swings. Therefore, we must employ our highest lofted clubs (~SW 56 ~LW 60). We need to have a large (relatively full) backswing & follow through to achieve the height, but commonly we don’t want to exceed 15-20 yards. By aiming approximately 2 inches behind the ball, we can impede our distance quickly and easily. Opening the club face heavily is extremely important in fluffier sand, but in firmer and/or wet sand is not at all necessary. Understanding the grade of sand is essential to knowing how much the face has to be open.

These shots both function on full swing mechanics, so if you can hit nice high irons from the fairways and light rough, you can hit these too! Simply understanding your scenario is arguably the most challenging aspect. PRACTICE!

Good Luck!

"First thing we have to understand about bunker play is that there are 2 VERY different scenarios." Click to Tweet

Start by drawing a small circle in the sand, set up and learn to throw sand out of the bunker.

My quickest and easiest way to get a player to hit great bunker shots: Throw sand, start by drawing a small circle in the sand, set up and learn to throw sand out of the bunker. You will be able to gauge the distance better when you learn the ball only goes with the sand, however far you throw the sand the ball will go with it. In doing this we are learning to use the bounce on the club.

Crown Colony Country Club

"Start by drawing a small circle in the sand, set up and learn to throw sand out of the bunker." @Nikeproben Click to Tweet

I like to have players hit only about 1" behind the golf ball

This isn’t necessarily the “best advice” but too many golfers hit too far behind the golf ball. The game’s best bunker players risk catching too much ball because they hit very, very close to the golf ball. If you’ve heard that you should hit a dollar bill behind the ball, cut that at least in half: I like to have players hit only about 1″ behind the golf ball. If the dollar bill is the size of the divot out of good, firm sand, the ball is well back of the center of that dollar bill, with most of the bill on the front side.

PGA Professional

"I like to have players hit only about 1" behind the golf ball" @iacas Click to Tweet

First of all, get a sand wedge with at least 10 degrees of bounce.

First of all, get a sand wedge with at least 10 degrees of bounce. I use a 58 degree, with 12 degrees of bounce. This helps the player get out of any bunker with ease and accuracy. Secondly, open the clubface a few degrees to increase loft, then place your hands on the club, open your stance and hit just behind the ball to build up sand on the clubface. make sure you swing through the shot with an accelerating tempo.

The Links At Teton Peaks

"First of all, get a sand wedge with at least 10 degrees of bounce." Click to Tweet

One of the big issues I see with amateurs in bunkers is they struggle with ball position.

One of the big issues I see with amateurs in bunkers is they struggle with ball position. Most I see have the ball way too far back. The idea is to hit green side bunker shots contacting the sand first. Forward ball position with weight favoring front leg is a great starting point. Practice drawing small islands of sand in the bunker and splash those out onto the green. You have to produce enough speed to create the force to throw the sand. Take an aggressive swing contacting the sand first using the bottom of the sand wedge(bounce) and watch your shots get consistently out of trouble!

Topgolf Houston – Spring

"One of the big issues I see with amateurs in bunkers is they struggle with ball position." Click to Tweet

A wide stance and a lower center of gravity by way of bending the knees

Ladies and Gentlemen, please ask yourself the following question and answer honestly: When was the last time you spent an hour in a bunker?

I loathe a hypocritical Junior Golf Coach- So I often find myself doing things with that in mind (practice what you preach). Today, I spent an hour in a bunker. I should include that I had the unique privilege of doing so at The Greenbrier Sporting Club, which has the finest short game practice area I have ever seen.

If you need some tips, all I can offer is that a wide stance and a lower center of gravity by way of bending the knees will generally help keep your lower body very stationary. When you sway or slide, the bottom of your swing arc moves accordingly.

One final piece of advice: finish the swing with your hands high, up above your lead shoulder. This will help all of us that decelerate the club as it comes into the (sand) ball. But first, please spend that hour in a bunker and then determine if you struggle with bunker shots. You may be surprised- you may even start to see why the best players in the world can get it closer to the hole from the sand than they can from the Fescue.

"A wide stance and a lower center of gravity by way of bending the knees" Click to Tweet

Make a line in the bunker with the grip of your sand wedge, then practice making swings contacting the sand on the line you made

Go to a practice bunker, make a line in the bunker with the grip of your sand wedge, then practice making swings contacting the sand on the line you made, your goal is to take a thin layer of sand about the length of dollar bill, after you are good at that put a ball an inch or 2 on the other side of the line and make a swing and contact the sand on the line as you were doing in practice. Take enough backswing to give the sand a good smack. The ball rides on the sand going towards the cup.

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Links at Mariners Point

"Make a line in the bunker with the grip of your sand wedge, then practice making swings contacting the sand on the line you made" Click to Tweet

Go to your local PGA golf professional for the correct way to hit out of a bunker.

Go to your local PGA golf professional for the correct way to hit out of a bunker. Then you have to practice those shots when you have extra range time. The correct formula and some practice will go along way!!

Briar Leaf Golf Club

"Go to your local PGA golf professional for the correct way to hit out of a bunker." @BriarLeafGC Click to Tweet

This shot is 85% technique...

This shot is 85% technique… you need to learn the dynamics and tendencies…see your local pga professional

REDD GOLF

"This shot is 85% technique..." Click to Tweet

Consistent entry and exit points

Consistent entry and exit points

Jim Mclean Golf School

"Consistent entry and exit points" Click to Tweet

If you understand how to use the bounce on your wedges bunker play is easy

Learn how bounce works.  If you understand how to use the bounce on your wedges bunker play is easy

"If you understand how to use the bounce on your wedges bunker play is easy" @jimhpga Click to Tweet

Let your hands go.

Splash the sand but allow your hands to be free, moving in the direction of your designated target. Release all tension and let you hands be your guide.

Stonebridge Ranch Hills Course

"Let your hands go." Click to Tweet

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