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Answer Why cant I get out of a bunker in one shot

If golf was meant to be played in the sand, the course would be on the beach.

Its the amateurs lament, uttered after his score has been buried by multiple swings in a greenside bunker. His frustration is easy to understand – hitting from the sand is completely different from playing off a tee or turf.

Well, not completely. Sure, youre taught to hit behind the ball in a bunker, something you almost never want to do anywhere else. The setup is a bit unusual, too. But swing mechanics are essentially the same. Most importantly, the key to good results is a swing that accelerates into and through the shot.

And thats where so many average golfers come up short.

Often, they try to shovel the ball out with a tentative flick of the wrists. Sometimes, they swing forcefully down but stop when the club enters the sand. They also tend to lean onto their right (back) foot, swinging weakly and taking too much sand.

The common denominator: fear. Mainly, fear of catching the ball cleanly and knocking it into the next province. Conversely, theres also fear of hitting too far behind the ball and leaving it in the bunker.

Stop worrying. If you hit 2” – 3” behind the ball with an accelerating swing, youll almost always get it out and onto the green. Worst-case scenario, it will finish on the fringe or rough.

With that in mind, heres very basic bunker method which will eliminate the chunks from your sand game:

  • Set up with your feet open to the target line by several inches, and the clubface slightly open (pointing right of the target).
  • Dig your feet an inch or so into the sand and flex your knees.
  • Position the ball in the center or just left of center in your stance.
  • Locate a spot about 2” behind the ball and focus on it. This is where the club should hit.
  • Make a full backswing, but keep your lower body relatively still.
  • Bring the club down hard onto your spot and – heres the key – continue turning your body toward the target through impact.
  • Your finish should be as long as your backswing, with your chest facing the green.

If you blank on the setup and swing technique, at least remember to do this: Swing hard, hit behind the ball, and dont stop swinging when the club hits the sand.

Once youve mastered the skill of simply escaping bunkers, you can move on to the fine points of distance, spin and trajectory. Believe it or not, you may come to enjoy playing from the sand – just like a day at the beach.

Theres a lot more to learn about bunker play, and weve got the topic covered thoroughly at In fact, weve got an entire section devoted to sand play. These tips represent just a handful of the helpful advice dispensed within our pages:

5 Common Bunker Mistakes

How to Vary Distance from a Greenside Bunker

How Do You Play from a Buried Lie?

Look Beyond Sand Wedge on Long Bunker Shots

What to Look for in the Perfect Sand Wedge

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Actually, youre supposed to do this. However, its possible to cut so sharply across the ball that you catch very little sand and barely move the ball. Unless you need a lot of height to clear a tall bunker lip, dont open the clubface more than 15° - 20° relative to the target line. Same goes for your feet.

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Nope, thats not the problem – unless youre hitting the sand on a very steep angle or dropping the club more the 3” behind the ball. In most cases, about 2” is good as long as you make an aggressive swing and keep the club moving through the sand.

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Baloney. Plenty of amateurs are excellent bunker players, and you can be too. It takes some time and effort, so find a local course or facility with a practice bunker, work on the technique outlined above, and kiss your sand woes goodbye.