How To Play Bunker Shots

If you are like most players you have a fear of sand bunkers, and rightfully so!

Greenside bunkers are designed as a stroke and half penalty and it is up to us to either make it less…or more!  Bunker shots are really more technique than anything else and without it, welcome to skull city.

As I have looked at some of the world’s best bunker players, and teachers, they all have a common theme.  Setup with your body lines left, if you are a right-handed player, aim the clubface at the target and then swing along your body line.

Sounds simple enough.  But wait…there’s more!

After a good setup, there is another piece…a long backswing and an aggressive through the swing.

Take a look at this setup and then we’ll go into more detail.

The alignment is where you set your body lines…

…feet, knees, hips, and shoulders.  The swing path is where the clubhead moves back and down and the target is where you aim the clubface.  Dave Stockton, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Seve ALL use this setup.  There are others that you can use but I would suggest starting with this one and if you are having issues then contact us for more in-depth coaching.

Once you have your lines set up then place a little more weight on the target side foot.  As you swing back, keep the weight forward and the knees bent.  In the downswing, use the upper body and hands primarily while maintaining a steady foundation of the lower body.  The weight should already be forward and there is no need to add any more.

In greenside bunker play, we want to use the “bounce” of the club so that it will glide through the sand.  If the player uses the leading edge the wedge will dig too much and those usually end up staying in the bunker.  The majority of players I see use too short of a backswing and rely on speeding up the club in the downswing.

While we certainly want acceleration through the ball, we would suggest making a normal length backswing to do so.

( Photo taken from Golf Channel video)
( Photo was taken from Golf Channel video)

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