Learning how to hit bunker shots is probably one of the most difficult things in the game, but it is also one of the most essential. All golfers will end up in the sand some of the time, so the quality of your game isn’t about how many times your ball lands in the bunker. It’s about what you do to get yourself out of that mess. Follow these tips to perfect your bunker shot and stop being afraid of them forever!
Tip #1: Use a sand wedge that has high to medium bounce.
The whole point of a wedge is to lift that ball up and out of the sand with a forward motion that avoids scooping it. Wedges with a low bounce dig down into the sand too much, so they will make your bunker shots more difficult.
Tip #2: Avoid digging your feet into the sand but do shuffle them a bit to get some good traction on that soft surface.
Hitting the ball from the sand does present the problem of lower stability because the ground under your feet is soft. The tendency for some golfers is to dig their feet down into the sand to find that stability, but that really isn’t helpful. If you dig your feet in too much, you’re more likely to hit fat shots because your plan will have changed.
Tip #3: Your swing should look similar to a V, with your shoulders turning, your arms lifting up, and your wrists hinging.
The average shot looks more like a U because you’re bringing that club way back and then following through all the way up, but with bunker shots, you’re actually trying to hit the sand rather than the ball. Instead of that arc, you need more of a hinge motion with your wrists so that the impact will happen correctly.
Tip #4: Instead of aiming for the ball on the downswing, aim for the sand about two or three inches behind the ball. If the sand is wet, aim for a spot that’s a little bit closer to the ball to compensate for the changed texture of the sand.
You need a nice chunk of sand that will gently lift the ball up and send it flying out in a wide arc rather than just sending it deeper into the sand. The goal is to get out of the bunker and move the ball toward the green, which you won’t be able to do if you’re hitting the ball rather than the sand under it.
Tip #5: Hit through the sand, accelerating on the downswing.
In order to bring the clubface through the sand, you’ll need to accelerate your shot. It can be tempting to slow your shot on the downswing because you’re aiming for the sand, but don’t do it. Speeding up your shot will cause the clubface to slice right under the ball. A high follow-through will send it up high softly.
For many golfers, learning how to hit bunker shots is one of the most frustrating parts of the game. It’s frustrating enough just landing in the sand, but don’t let it keep you from doing your best. Focus on these tips and you’ll never fear those bunker shots again!