Golf Bunker Shot Tips

How to Hit out of the Sand in any Situation

A golf shot out of deep sandThere’s nothing that it is more annoying on a golf course than when you hit a clean shot off the tee or the fairway only to see it plummet into a sand bunker. No matter how hard you try to keep the golf ball out of those little critters, they always seem to suck the ball in.When your ball lands in the golf sand traps, what you shouldn’t do is panic. It’s not the end of your hole, but there are several bunker shot tips that should be taken into consideration in your bunker shots. Knowing how to hit out of a golf bunker is all well and good, but what about if your golf ball lands in a fairway sand trap, or if it’s deep in the sand? There are several different techniques you should think about for different lies and sand bunkers. Some of which are included below for you to have a look at.

The Basics

Sand traps or bunkers have been around since golf was first played on links-type courses. Links courses usually have natural sand traps or sandy areas, which is why bunkers are a part of every golf course in the world. Which means we all need to know the basics and confidence plays a big part.

So, what are the basics?

  • Open the face of the clubhead after gripping the club. this is most important
  • Open stance, which means your stance is aligned slightly left of the flag
  • Wiggle your feet a little into the sand to establish a solid base
  • Position the ball just forward of center
  • Aim to hit the sand one inch behind the ball
  • Swing the club along the line of your body, a full swing
  • Do not decelerate during the swing
  • Follow through is essential
  • Practice, practice, practice

Hitting out of wet or shallow golf sand traps

When shots land in golf sand traps we cannot always expect perfect sand conditions. The sand bunker may be wet or just shallow (not much sand). This would call for a change in the usual bunker shot technique.

When playing out of wet or shallow sand, the setup and positioning should be the same as basic bunker shots except for the following:

Now, on a basic bunker shot the positioning of the club would tend to encourage the back of the clubhead to bounce off the sand instead of digging into it. This is because the clubface is open. In wet or shallow lies, you should try and refrain from your club from bouncing off the sand, as in these conditions it could cause you to balloon it straight over the green or in some cases not even out of the sand trap.

To stop the bounce of the clubhead, all you have to do is keep the head of the golf club square on and swing as normal. Don’t forget, you need to try and enter the sand two inches behind the ball, like you would do any other bunker shot. Good luck!

Don’t sway to the left

With bunker shots, it is important that you don’t sway to the left. You should imagine that you are in a tube, where you can only swivel or turn. This is why you have to turn your body when making your shot. You could find out if you are doing this right by standing with your back to the sun wherein your shadow is in front of you. Along the axis of the shadow, place a piece of cord on the ground. Bisect your head shadow over the cord and then swing the club while watching the shadow. There shouldn’t be any movement on the left, so concentrate on rotating your body without any left-side movement.

Take the Sand not the Ball

In a sand trap shot, the ball essentially never gets touched by the club face. The club hits the sand that was holding the ball and as the sand flicks up it takes the ball with it.

To play this shot well you should stand with your feet apart and your stance and your club face open. You should then position yourself so that the ball is up in your stance, even in line with the heel of your front foot is fine. Now, with your swing you should be hitting the sand about 1-2 inches before the ball. You should also try and slide the club under the ball and hit through rather than down.

Always follow through

Avoid the most common error I see among amateurs— don’t just stick your club into the sand… follow through. If you do this combined with the last bunker tip, your club should slide under the ball, which will pop up and out of the sand trap. Most times, this ball will have a lot of spin on it so it won’t roll too far after it lands.

How to play a plugged ball

If your ball is plugged then you will need to change the “basics”. Essentially you will need to dig the ball out. Try these tips.

  • Close the club face
  • Come down steeply on the sand behind the ball
  • Swing harder than normal
  • Follow through

How to play a long bunker shot

A simple solution to hitting a longer bunker shot of say, 30 to 40 yards, is to use more club. Try using your pitching wedge which has less loft. You must still open the club face,  hit an inch or so behind the ball and also take a full swing. Even on these longer bunker shots, you still want to splash out.

Chipping from a sand bunker

Chipping from a sand trap is only necessary when the bank of the sand bunker is low. Hitting a usual lofted shot with the sand is not really needed, and it just complicates things for the golfer. When there is enough green between the sand and the hole and the bunker is low, a golfer must play a variation of a chipped shot, it’s just so much easier. To play a chip from the sand is no different from any other lie, apart from 2 slight modifications. When you grip the golf club, make sure you grip it low, as far down as the shaft is were you should hold it. Then you keep your eyes locked on the left half of the ball rather than on the right as you would do on any other shot. This allows you to apply a clean connection with the ball and it’s the key to all good chip shots. Chipping shall only work if the ball is seated above the sand and not dug into it.

Fairway bunker shots

One of the keys to hitting good fairway bunker shots is to start off by choosing the correct club. It is important that the club you choose has sufficient loft to clear the lip of the bunker. It would be very unlucky if you were to strike the ball cleanly to only see it smash into the side of the sand bunker and slowly trickle back down to your feet. If you’re unlucky enough to have landed in a fairway bunker thats 150 yards away or more from the hole then it’s important that you get a good solid clean hit on it. So you must try and remove as little sand as possible for this. You should also stand tall and grip the the club a couple of inches down the handle.

Also, don’t bury your feet down into the sand like you would on a sidehill golf sand traps. Play the ball an inch back in your stance from were you would do on a sidehill sand bunker, as this will help you catch the ball and not the sand. You should keep the swing short and quiet, so that means no sharp lunges from the top of the backswing, just keep is smooth and throughout.