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Bunker Play Basics: Mastering Sand Shots Like a Pro

Bunker shots strike fear into the hearts of many golfers, but with the right technique and mindset, they can become one of your most reliable shots. Mastering bunker play requires an understanding of the fundamentals, proper technique, and plenty of practice. In this article, we’ll delve into the basics of bunker play and provide tips to help you become a proficient bunker player.

1. Understand the Sand

Before attempting a bunker shot, it’s essential to understand the nature of the sand you’re playing from. Bunker sand is typically softer and more granular than the turf, which means the club should interact with the sand rather than the ball. Visualize the sand as a cushion beneath the ball, allowing the club to slide through effortlessly.

2. Select the Right Club

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Choosing the correct club for a bunker shot is crucial for success. Opt for a sand wedge or lob wedge with a high loft, typically ranging from 54 to 60 degrees. The extra loft helps to launch the ball high into the air and carry it over the lip of the bunker. Experiment with different clubs to find the one that suits your swing and the conditions of the bunker.

3. Open the Clubface

One of the key principles of bunker play is to open the clubface at address. This means rotating the clubface open so that it points slightly to the right of the target (for right-handed golfers). Opening the clubface increases the effective loft of the club and promotes a higher ball flight, helping the ball to clear the lip of the bunker and land softly on the green.

4. Aim Behind the Ball

Unlike shots from the fairway or rough, bunker shots require a different approach to aiming. Instead of focusing on the ball itself, aim to strike the sand a few inches behind the ball. This ensures that the club enters the sand at the correct angle and depth, allowing the sand to propel the ball out of the bunker with the desired trajectory and spin. How to square up your Clubface at impact, read more at this link.

5. Maintain an Aggressive Swing

To generate enough power and loft to escape the bunker, it’s essential to maintain an aggressive swing through the shot. Focus on accelerating the clubhead through impact, allowing the club to slide smoothly through the sand and underneath the ball. Avoid decelerating or scooping at the ball, as this can lead to inconsistent contact and poor results.

6. Follow Through and Finish

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After striking the sand behind the ball, continue your swing through to a full finish. The follow-through should be smooth and balanced, with the club extending toward the target and the body rotating toward the finish position. A complete follow-through ensures maximum clubhead speed and control, leading to more consistent and successful bunker shots.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice

As with any aspect of golf, mastering bunker play requires dedicated practice. Spend time on the practice green honing your bunker technique, focusing on different types of bunker shots, such as standard greenside bunker shots, buried lies, and long bunker shots. Experiment with various techniques and strategies to develop a reliable bunker game that you can trust on the course.


Bunker play doesn’t have to be intimidating. With the right approach and plenty of practice, you can become a proficient bunker player capable of escaping even the toughest bunkers with confidence. By understanding the fundamentals, selecting the right club, and maintaining an aggressive swing, you can master sand shots like a pro and take your golf game to the next level.

For further reading on bunker play techniques and strategies, visit Golf Wiki for comprehensive information and insights from experienced golfers.

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