How to Play Out of Every Type of Bunker // The Ultimate Guide

Many golfers tend to leave the ball in the bunker a lot and also at times shoot the ball out of the bunker or thin the ball out of the bunker.

An easy way to get things fixed is by making use of the bounce of the club. Make sure to open the face and hit the club off the sand.

However, as this may solve it for others, many times most of the golfers scoop the golf ball as much by keeping the bottom part of the swing far too back. This is hugely problematic as this way either the sand is hit a little early or the golfers end up getting out of the sand and thin the golf ball.

Let us look at some effective ways on how to play out those bunker shots from the greenside bunker that you might find yourself in.

How to Play Out of Every Type of Bunker Shots

Generate heights

The first thing you want to do is to generate heights. To do that you need to open the clubface up. The way to do this is to have a close look on your handle. You should be able to see all the grip guides on the front of the handle.

What you need to be doing here is just rotate them fractionally to the right by turning the club head and face with creating a loft at the same time. It can get a little complicated to manage at first but once a bit more loft is designed, you will get a little bit more height.

Setup the most stable base possible

It is important to get your setup correct. In a bunker, you need to allow yourself to get nice and low in the sand. Shuffle your feet and dig them just slightly to give you the most stable base possible.

Make sure to go as wide and low stance as you can. The wider you can go, the lower you can go to the ground by making sure you hit the sand every time. At the same time, this will give you an excellent base because in a narrow stance you will feel like you are off balance and moving.

Focus on your ball position

Once your base is settled and sorted, with that in mind, you need to focus on your ball position. What you need to be doing is to have a ball position in front of the center of your stance.

Imagine this as something that is more like a long iron ball position. The middle of the ball can be about two or three inches behind the location of the ball. This is going to help you to make the best contact to get the golf ball out of the bunker.

Presenting appropriate loft

The loft is your key. You need to make sure that you are giving your shot the best opportunity to get out of the bunker by presenting appropriate loft. So, it is highly important that you choose your correct tool.

Check out sand or lob wedges to give yourself the best chance to loft out of the bunker and land on the green. If you are using a sand wedge, remember that the loft can be used differently according to the lie of the ball.

The position of your loft

The other big factor here is to present the correct amount of loft as you hit your shot. As you prepare to hit your bunker shot, you want to make sure that your loft is pointed up to the sky. You need to present your loft at contact to ensure the ball just floats out and lands on the green.
You can do this a couple of different ways;

Opening the club face

You need the ball to pop up high and clear the ledge. The bounce on the back of your club (the edge that sits up higher than the leading edge) will simply bounce through the sand preventing you from digging and getting stuck.

If you let the digger edge or the leading edge come into the sand first, the ball will not pop up high with a nice spin.

Do not be scared of the open clubface thinking that your ball will go off to the right and you will need to set yourself open to offset that. There is no need for you to do that.

The ball will fly in the direction that the sand goes in. Whichever path you are swinging in and throwing sand up onto the green, the ball is going to fly in the same direction as well.

Once you have that settled, open your face first before you take your grip. Rotate your golf club into a more open position before you actually take hold of the club. Then hold it with that face open to the right.

Add more loft to make the ball land softer

It is important to add loft in a bunker. If you have added a bit of a loft, you may also want to aim a fraction to the left. It is not necessary to do so. But many times it was proven to help some golfers when they were aiming to their right.
Moreover, having more loft is the only way to get a little more height to make the ball land softer.

Focus on club to hit a successful shot

If you play out on hard bunkers, you need to focus on the club that you are going to use to hit a successful shot out of the hard bunker. The harder the sand, the more downward force you will need. That will result in a more verticle (V shape) angle of attack.

You do not want to be using a sand wedge. Both sand wedge and lob wedge has bounce. Meaning that, the back edge and the bottom edges are lower than the front edge. That is primarily designed to help the club glide through the sand.

Most clubs these days will have the bounce marked on them. Your loft to bounce ratio should be checked too. Make sure your bounce does not exceed that of the loft.

If your club is ten degrees on hard sand, it will hit the sand and slide along. You will eventually end up skulling it over the green. It is also adviced if you look for a lob wedge, preferably the one that gives you enough bounce.

However, if you are using a sand wedge and if your ball is in a natural position on the sand, you could have your club facing slightly open through impact. On a deeper lie of the ball, you can have the club squarer; but you must not forget to close your club if the ball is very deep into the sand.

Know when to execute your shot

The first thing to know when to execute your shot is that you do not want to hit the golf ball but you want to hit the sand behind the golf ball with speed. This is because you need speed too. As soon as you hit the sand, your club is going to start to slow down.

If you have fluffy sand, try to aim to hit behind the ball by around three inches. The more compact the sand, the closer to the golf ball you are going to hit and the less power you are going to require.

Quick Tip

Look at the point where you want the club to hit the sand as you hit the shot; preferably about three inches behind the golf ball. Keep the speed through the shot and make sure you follow accordingly.

Downward Shot

You have to be descending when you hit the sand shot. The middle of your divot will be in front of your golf ball designating the lowest point of your golf swing. Even though you hit the sand before the ball, make sure the clubface gets down there and gets in reasonable contact with the ball.

If your club is still descending, it must hit it and reach the bottom of the swing beyond the ball. Similarly, if you start bottoming out and your upswing at the ball, you are going to struggle with this.

Plugged bunker shot (Fried Egg)

The plugged bunker shot is the only one in golf with no follow-through. That’s because of all the momentum of the golfer’s swing goes into the sand and not forward. It is a tiny but deep divot.

The action is more of a stab than a swing, and it curves your ball to the left as you strike. This requires you to ensure that you hit the sand with the leading edge of the club (the sharp edge of the club). That’s helping you dig into the sand and underneath the ball; just like an ice cream scoop.

Put most of your weight on your left foot with your spine tilted towards the target and swing your arms steeply upwards. Yes, the club will be picked up a lot more steeply. This will help you drive down into the sand helping you to get underneath the ball.

You can also try to use the heel of the club to help you cut into the sand. With a little bit of extra loft, the ball will come much higher and land much softer.

Now that you have looked into some useful insights on how to play out of your bunker shots, let us show you some techniques through which you can imply those above far more efficiently.

Careful About Steep Backswing

One of the main culprits in the bunker is steep backswings or in other words, disconnected backswings in the bunker. You have to bear in mind to keep your lead arm to chest connection, just like you do while taking any other shot around the course. Meaning that, your chest has to go along for the backswing.

Do not leave the chest on the ball but instead, if you try lifting your arms, you will soon notice how this ends up giving you more power.

Even after you follow these methods, bunker shots can still be tricky and come as absolute misery for some players. Some golfers struggle just getting out of the bunker and hitting it close to the hole.

However, if you know specific techniques, you can learn to play out of the bunker a lot sooner than the other struggling golfers.

Read more:What happens when you shorten your backswing

Techniques You Could Use While Playing Buker Shots

  • Opposite of your golf ball, draw a line in the practice bunker
  • Practice setting a bit more of your weight to your left and practice feeling like you unhinged the club down to a low point
  • Carry on with little swings until you can feel the club has lowered on the side of the line
  • Your club does not have to be closed; you can open the club a little bit if you wish to
  • Practice finishing low even if the ball goes only ten to fifteen feet. Get the bottom of the swing in front of the ball. This will get you on the path of a better bunker play

Pro-tip

Retract the club and pull it into your body instead of having your club continuing towards the target. This will help to apply the loft of the club to the ball and give you a very narrow follow-through.

Because, this is a technique played by most professionals, do not be disheartened if it finishes quite short between the bunker and the edge of the green. It is quite a difficult one and requires a perfect amount of practice.

Common Mistakes you should keep in mind

There can be plenty of common faults in the sand. Golfers often tend to fear the sand when they are in the sand. Either they hit too far behind and leave the ball in the trap or hit too close to the ball and hit over the green.

They are too inconsistent because they do not have a proper understanding of the fundamentals. Here are a few solutions to some common mistakes to help you eliminate them easily.

1) Not Opening the Clubface Correctly

Solution: Many players grip the club and then roll their wrists to open the face. This makes your wrist rotate again or rollback on the downswing, and your clubface will either straight up or close. This is why you need to open the clubface first and then grip the club.

2) Not Turning

Solution: When you lift the club in the air and swing it across the golf ball, you will end up lifting your arms and forget to turn. You need to create clubhead speed in the bunker, and it is better to turn.

3) Looking at the Wrong Spot

Solution: You have to have your eyes focused on a spot about two inches behind the golf ball. You cannot expect them to be focused if you want to hit the spot.

4) Angle of Attack

Solution: For long enough, a common misconception has been circulating the sport when players think they have to hit down into the sand. What many golfers do not get is that you also have to swing through the sand. However, a bunker shot is a shallow angle of the attack hitting the sand and not a steep one. You need to come through the sand and skin it instead of digging into the sand.

5) Not Finishing the Shot

Solution: Mentally it is often hard to take a full swing when you are close to your target. But you must remember to open your clubface and swing across the target line making the sand act as a resistance to the clubhead speed. If you do this, you need to accelerate and finish when you want to get on the shot.

6) Failing to Differentiate Between the Chip and Bunker Shots

Solution: One of the most common mistakes when it comes to playing out the bunker shots is to confuse bunker shots with chip shots. Here are some ways and tips in which you can identify between the two and take effective actions.

Bunker ShotsChip ShotsWhat to do
Cupping handsQuiet and stuff wristsAfter impacts, club your right hands as if you were catching raindrops from above.
Shaft leans backwardShaft leans forwardsHave a forward shaft lean to make your body hit down on the ball and your club to dig into the sand
Uses right handUses left handUse your right hand to slap the sand with the sole of your club.

How Should One Feel About Bunkers?

Bunkers should not be feared. They are quite predictable and are better sometimes than being in the long grass. However, the practice should be your number one priority when dealing with your shortcomings.

It is essential if you practice your weaknesses. So, if your weakness is bunker, make sure you practice it.

Conclusion

Following these instructions, not only will you get out of the bunker but also you are going to be able to hit it closer to the hole. You will also feel aggressive and will able to swing very hard without feeling like you are just standing there guiding the ball.

Additionally, your ball will pop out coming past your flag and land in a great spot. You will be able to get out of the bunker every time with huge amounts of height with loads of confidence and you never leave the golf ball inside the bunker again.

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