11 Bunker Shot Tips: How To Play Bunker Shots

How to Hit Sand Shots: The Ultimate Guide

Ah, the dreaded bunker shot. Whether you're a seasoned golfer or just getting into the game, there's something about those sand traps that can make even the most confident player break out in a cold sweat.

The time of fearing these harmless piles of sand is over. In this ultimate guide, we're going to equip you with 11 bunker shot tips that will have you conquering those sand shots like a pro, reveal the best sand wedge out there, and end with the answers to some common FAQs.

Get ready to dig in (literally) as we unravel the secrets to mastering the art of bunker shots. From observing sand conditions to tweaking your grip and stance, we've got you covered.

Observe Sand Conditions

Before you even attempt to conquer a bunker shot, it's crucial to assess the sand conditions. Not all sand is created equal, and understanding the texture and moisture of the sand will greatly impact your approach.

Take a moment to observe the sand in the bunker. Is it soft and fluffy or firm and compacted? Is it dry or damp? These details will help you determine how to adjust your technique for the shot.

Soft, fluffy sand requires a different approach compared to firm, compacted sand. In soft sand, you'll want to make a more aggressive swing and take a deeper divot. On the other hand, in firm sand, a more shallow approach is necessary to avoid digging too deep and losing control.

Remember, the sand conditions can vary from bunker to bunker and even within the same bunker. Always take a quick look before you take your shot and adjust accordingly.

Choke Down on the Club

Having control over your swing is key, and one effective technique to improve control is to choke down on the club.

Choking down simply means gripping the club lower on the handle, closer to the clubhead. By doing so, you gain better control and precision in your swing, allowing for more consistent and accurate contact with the sand and the ball.

Choking down on the golf club also shortens the overall length of the club, which can help you maintain better balance and control throughout your swing. This can be particularly helpful when navigating the tricky terrain of a bunker.

Use Your Grip to Open the Clubface

One of the key factors that can greatly influence the trajectory and spin of the ball is the clubface angle. Opening the clubface helps you achieve a higher launch and more loft, which is crucial for getting the ball out of the sand and onto the green.

To open the clubface, make sure your grip is slightly rotated in your lead hand (the hand closest to the target). You want to turn your hand so that your thumb is positioned slightly to the right (for right-handed golfers) on the handle. This adjustment will naturally open the clubface.

Be mindful not to overdo it, as too much clubface opening can result in a shot that goes too far to the right.

By using your grip to open the clubface, you'll have a better chance of achieving the desired height and trajectory, helping you escape those sandy confines with style.

Weaken the Grip of Your Lead Hand

Achieving a smooth and fluid swing is crucial when it comes to getting out of the bunker, and one way to promote a more natural and flowing motion is by weakening the grip of your lead hand.

A weakened grip means that your lead hand (left hand for right-handed golfers) is rotated slightly counterclockwise on the club handle, exposing more of the back of your hand to the target. This adjustment helps promote a more open clubface throughout the swing, allowing for cleaner contact with the sand and better control of the shot.

By weakening your grip, you also reduce the likelihood of excessive tension in your hands and arms, which can hinder the fluidity of your swing. This relaxed grip allows for a smoother acceleration through the shot and helps prevent the club from digging too deeply into the sand.

Use a Sand Wedge

Having the right club selection in your hands can make all the difference, and that's where the trusty sand wedge comes into play with greenside bunker shots.

The sand wedge is specifically designed to excel in greenside bunker situations. It features a wider sole and higher bounce angle, which helps the club glide through the sand without getting stuck, allowing for cleaner contact with the golf ball.

The loft of a sand wedge, typically ranging from 54 to 58 degrees, provides the necessary lift and height to get the golf ball high up and out of the greenside bunker with ease. It's the go-to club for many golfers when faced with a challenging greenside bunker shot.

So, if you want to increase your chances of success in greenside bunker play, make sure you have a reliable sand wedge in your bag. Its specialized design and loft will give you the best opportunity to escape the sand and save those precious strokes.

P3 Pharaoh Wedge

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Widen and Open Your Stance

A stable and balanced setup is essential. For the perfect bunker shot, you want to widen and open your stance.

Start by positioning your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. This wider base provides a solid foundation and helps maintain stability throughout the swing.

Then, open your stance by aiming your front foot (left foot for right-handed golfers) slightly left of the target. This open stance promotes a more natural swing path and allows for better clearance of the sand as the club moves through impact.

By widening and opening your stance, you create a stable platform that enables you to swing the club with more control and confidence. This setup also helps ensure that your swing path is on target and aligned with your desired shot direction.

Bend Your Knees

As you set up for the shot, make sure to flex your knees slightly. This posture helps lower your center of gravity, providing a more solid base and improved balance throughout the swing.

Bending your knees also allows for better rotation and weight transfer during the swing, enabling you to generate power and control the clubhead through the sand.

Position the Ball Forward

The ball position plays a crucial role in achieving the desired trajectory and contact when hitting it out of the bunker. To maximize your chances of success, it's important to position the ball forward in your stance.

To do this, place the golf ball slightly forward of the center of your stance, closer to your front foot (left foot for right-handed golfers). This positioning allows you to strike the sand before making contact with the ball, creating the necessary explosion and lift.

By positioning the clubface slightly open and the golf ball forward, you ensure that the clubface enters the sand just behind the ball, generating the required loft and enabling the club to glide through the sand smoothly.

Really Dig Your Feet In

To ensure a solid foundation and prevent slipping during the swing, it's essential to dig your feet into the sand.

Before you take your stance, use your feet to create a firm connection with the sand. Wiggle your feet back and forth to dig them in slightly, allowing the sand to mold around your shoes. This helps anchor your lower body and provides stability throughout the swing.

By digging your feet in, you establish a strong base and reduce the risk of losing your balance during the swing. It allows you to focus on executing the shot without worrying about slipping or shifting weight.

Use the Length of Your Backswing to Control Distance

By adjusting the length of your backswing, you can regulate the amount of power and distance you generate. A shorter backswing produces less power, resulting in a shorter shot, while a longer backswing generates more power, resulting in a longer shot.

To control the distance, focus on the length of your backswing rather than varying the speed of your swing. Maintain a smooth and consistent tempo as you swing through the sand, with the length of your backswing dictating the desired distance.

When you practice bunker shots, experiment with different backswing lengths to develop a feel for the distance each variation produces. Take note of the clubhead speed and the resulting carry distance, and gradually refine your technique to achieve the desired yardages.

Remember, bunker shots require finesse and touch. By utilizing the length of your backswing as a distance control mechanism, you'll be able to dial in your bunker shots with precision.

Hit the Sand Before the Golf Ball

One of the critical aspects of successful bunker shots is making contact with the sand before the ball. This technique is essential for creating the desired explosion and lift needed to clear the bunker.

As you swing through the sand, focus on striking the sand a couple of inches behind the ball. The goal is to create a shallow divot, allowing the clubhead to slide through the sand and lift the ball out smoothly.

Avoid the temptation to try to lift the ball directly or make contact with the ball first. Hitting the sand before the golf ball also ensures that the club face gets underneath the ball, promoting the desired loft and spin.

The Best Sand Wedge

The best sand wedge out there is the P3 Pharaoh Wedge from right here at Pyramid Golf.

Its unique design slips through the sand with ease and lobs the ball like there was nothing to it. You can even use it for longer bunker shots seeing as it's got about 10° less loft than a standard sand wedge.

Add the "Swiss Army Knife for your short game" to your golf bag today and see why over 400+ satisfied golfers reviewed their experience five stars.

P3 Pharaoh Wedge

★ ★ ★ ★ ★  (400+ Reviews)

Retail Price:


Your Price:


(You Save 27%)


What should you do after you step out of a sand trap in golf?

After exiting a sand trap, many golfers use a bunker rake to smooth out the sand and restore it to its original condition. This ensures that the next player faced with a bunker shot has a fair and consistent lie.

How to use sand wedge in bunker?

To use a sand wedge effectively in a bunker, open your stance, grip down on the club, and position the ball slightly forward in your stance. Focus on hitting the sand a few inches behind the ball, allowing the golf club to slide through the sand and lift the ball out.

Why are bunkers hard to hit out of?

Bunkers are designed to be some of the most difficult shots out on the golf course. The soft, loose sand creates resistance, making it harder to make solid contact with the ball. Additionally, the lip of the bunker can impede the golf swing path, requiring adjustments to execute a successful shot.

Should you rake a bunker after using it?

Yes, it's good golf etiquette to rake a bunker after you've played a shot. Raking helps maintain the integrity and fairness of the course by providing consistent playing conditions for all golfers.

Featured: P3 Pharaoh Wedge

Congratulations! You've made it through 11 essential tips that will help you conquer those sandy traps with confidence and finesse. From observing sand conditions, to using proper technique, to tweaking your grip and stance, each tip plays a crucial role in improving your bunker play.

Remember, bunker shots require practice and patience. By incorporating these tips into your training regimen and experimenting with different techniques, you'll gradually develop the skills and instincts needed to escape bunkers successfully.

Good luck and have a blast out there!

Until next time,
Matt Stephens
Inventor: Pyramid Putter, iCOR Putter

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Thanks for the tips. I learned some stuff. I am old and set in my ways. When it cools down a little, I will work on my bunker deficiencies.

Gary Greere

Thanks for the details about how to use a sand wedge in a bunker….my question please…Should one follow the same advice using a P3 Pharoah wedge, (open the club face, wide stance, position the ball forward, hit behind the ball, etc) or should one be more upright, less wristy, position the ball in the center of the stance, etc.
I’m sure many of your readers would appreciate your advice.
Thanks again,

Graeme Williams

Thanks very much , Matt: very helpful points. I am not afraid of bunkers but you’ve added some pointers that I need to use!

Hugh Thompson

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