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How to Hit a Bunker Shot: Tips to Never Lose a Bunker Again

golf bunker on course

Bunker shots are some of the most difficult shots in golf. Even the most experienced golfers get snared in bunkers from time to time. 

Getting out of the bunker requires an exceptional level of precision and focus that most amateurs struggle to command. Today we’ll give you a walk through of what makes the bunker shot so unique, and provide a handful of tips to help you conquer the bunker. Improving your performance in this key area is one of the most effective ways to quickly and efficiently improve your golf game.

How Bunker Shots Are Different

The Bunker Shot requires you to hit the ball with a slightly different motion than a regular shot. For one, the stance puts the ball a bit farther forward relative to your body. At the setup, you should bend more at the knee to ensure your club hits enough sand to propel the ball upwards. When you swing, your wrists hinge and throw the club shaft towards the ball at a steeper than normal angle to skim the sand surface and send the ball into flight. Read on for exact instructions. 

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How To Hit a Winning Bunker Shot

Step 1: Ball Forward, Knees Bent

When you set up to hit a bunker shot, the ball will be closer to the front foot than it is in a regular shot. Center your body over the ball and compress your weight downward. The reason for this is that you’ll need extra power to get the ball out of the pit; a normal golf stance typically means a slightly taller stance which isn’t sufficient for bunker shots. 

For a bunker shot, the ball is farther forward so your stance should be too. Weight your stance more favorably to the front foot. Open your club shaft. This will guide the ball out of the sand. 

Step 2: Use the Right Club

While good equipment and the right club can’t compensate for bad technique, rockstar technique gets you nowhere if you’re using the wrong club. For bunker shots, you should use at least a 56 degree sand wedge for best results. This club angle will help your ball more easily exit the sand.

Step 3: The Swing

The swing is arguably the most difficult part of the bunker shot. There are three factors to consider during the swing for a bunker shot: Strike Point, Depth, and Distance Control. Ideally, you’ll want to strike just slightly behind the ball. If you strike too far behind, you’ll hit more sand than ball; if you hit too far in front you’ll scrap the top of the ball launching it into the hill. Depth will also determine how clean of a shot you get. A good bunker shot scrapes the surface so just enough sand catapults the ball into the air. Depending on the distance and the club you’re using, you’ll want to experiment with quarter, half, and full swings. 

How to Hit a Bunker Shot in Hard Sand

Hitting a bunker shot in hard sand can feel like a whole different ball game. What many amateur golfers don’t realize though is that the technique is largely the same. The main difference is in the angle of attack. If you’re hitting a bunker shot in fine sand, Your attack angle is steeper than that of a regular swing, but you’re still just scraping the surface at impact. 

When hitting a bunker shot in hard sand, close your clubface more and try to replicate a steep chopping motion in your swing. The strike point and distance control will be largely the same, but your depth will change with your attack angle. 

How to Hit a Long Bunker Shot

In some circumstances, bunker shots can be long and require enough power to send the ball out of the bunker as well as many additional yards down the course. 

Consider your club choice. You may want something straighter than a sand wedge to give you a few extra yards but that still has enough of an angle to give your shot the necessary height. Don’t be afraid to take a full swing in these circumstances. Remember, bunker shots are an outside-in swing motion. Drive your body through the ball giving priority to your front foot. 

Drills to Help You Master The Bunker Shot

Drill #1: Walk the line

Draw two parallel lines in the sand perpendicular to your target. These place the ball in the center of these lines. They should be about a meter long. Start at the end of the line, taking a step after each swing. Where is your club landing? Is it in front of the lines? Behind them? Golfers who hit in front of the lines will notice they’re chunking more sand than ball, and those who hit in front will realize they’re coming out on top. To avoid these mistakes, aim to make contact with the sand in the middle of the lines. 

Depth matters. If you’re swinging too deep you risk a heavier shot or even breaking your club shaft; too shallow and you scrape the top of the ball. Repeat this drill 2-3 times.  

Drill 2: Staggered stance

This is really an awesome drill to give you maximum feedback in the bunker. Stand at the two lines you drew before with your feet staggered(left foot forward, right foot back for right handed players). Place a ball between the two lines and swing. Did you get too much sand? Did you blade shoot the ball? This drill will tell you if you need to be farther forward, or back and also if you need to shoot shallower or deeper.  

Last Words

While the bunker shot may be difficult to master, a few simple tips go a long way to helping you use the notorious traps to your advantage. Practice the tips and drills and see what you can do! You’ll get there in no time!

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