Hitting a Bunker Shot and Making it Stop

golf bunker

How to Hit the Perfect Bunker Shot

Going to the beach sounds like a blast. Unless it is during your round of golf. That term generally means you have hit into a sand trap or hazard and now you must get out of it. Luckily for you, this article will cover hitting a bunker shot and making it stop.

There are two different types of bunkers, greenside bunkers that are close to the green, and fairway bunkers which are much further away. Today we will focus solely on the green side and close bunkers.

The Basics of a Sandtrap

We actually love the thought of sandtraps so much, we named our establishment after them! But the same is not true for many golfers. Several golfers dread sandtraps. We hope this article will help you hate bunker shots a little less after reading it.

The first thing to consider when entering any bunker before hitting your shot is the sand quality. Is the sand you are stepping onto hard, wet, packed? Or perhaps it is soft, drier, finer sand? This can affect your strategy on your swing.

If the sand is hard and packed, you probably won’t be able to hit under the ball as well, and your club may bounce a bit off the surface.

If the sand is dry and fluffy, your club will likely sink down into the sand as you swing through.

The Club Selection

For best results in hitting your ball out of the sand from a greenside bunker, you are going to want to select a sand wedge (which generally has a loft of about 56-degrees) or a club with a higher loft (even as much as a 60-degree lob type wedge).

You also need to make sure that your wedge has the correct bounce. That is the angle created between a leading edge of the club and the lowest point of the club, otherwise known as “the trailing edge”. This helps the wedge glide through all of the sand underneath the ball.

Setting the Clubface

Next up, you have to set your club face. If the sand is wet and packed, you want more of a closed face. If the sand is dry and fluffy, you are going to want to open up your clubface more.

The biggest takeaway to remember here (for all of you rules enthusiasts) – you cannot GROUND your club in the bunker. This means you can not allow the club to touch the sand at any point before you take your swing and hit your shot, otherwise it is a 2 stroke penalty.

Adjusting the Setup

The setup for a bunker shot is a little bit different than any other shot during a round of golf. You will generally want to take a little wider stance, and you will want the ball a bit further up in your stance.

You will also want to dig your feet into the sand with a quick twist or two so as not to slip on the swing. Bend your knees slightly, and lean slightly back in your posture. All of these steps will help in creating a more shallow angle of attack so as to really lift the ball and the sand on contact.

The Swing

A bunker shot generally needs a bit steeper swing arc. One way to accomplish this is more of an aggressive wrist hinge. You’ll open the clubface a bit on the backswing, almost as if the toe of the wedge is turning towards the ground on the backswing.

On the downswing you will want to maintain your speed (do not slow things down and decelerate into the sand). Aim for a spot about one to two inches behind the ball, and let the club head glide through the sand and underneath the ball.

Both the ball and the pile of sand should just sort of explode out of the sand trap and settle softly on the green.

The Follow Through

It is important here to finish high. What that means is do not decelerate your swing towards impact. Do not stop your clubface in the sand. Do not stop after the ball is out of the bunker. Finish your swing and end with the club up nice and high in the air (at the very least to ensure follow through).


There is not really a need to complicate the bunker shot any more than those few easy steps. The easiest way I have ever heard it explained to me was this:

It is like there is a soft, chewy, chocolate chip cookie sitting under your golf ball and you want to swing under it, hitting just the edge of the cookie and following through so as to toss that cookie and ball onto the green.

With a nice open stance front foot left of the target (if you are right-handed), feet firmly dug into the sand, and knees bent, open club face and hinged wrists, and nice firm swing that goes under the ball, you’ll be hitting high and soft bunker shots that actually stop.

Follow these great tips and you’ll be hitting out of the bunkers like the pros in the blink of an eye! And don’t forget to check out the Toronto’s best Golf Simulator and Lounge . Better yet, book a golf lesson with our PGA-Certified Instructors.

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