Top Instructional Tips on Greenside Bunker Shot
This is easily the best portion of my golf game, but I will be the first to tell you that it did not come easy to me. I was absolutely awful out of the bunkers at one point in my career, but I invested a solid four hours one day to learning how to hit a bunker shot properly, and it has honestly stuck with me ever since. There is nothing real tricky to the bunker shot, you just need to focus on ball position, where you are aiming your feet, and the type of swing you are making. I realize there are dozens of articles out there that claim to have the “cure all” for bunker play, but I will provide you with the simple techniques I learned at a young age that have helped me to get to where I am today… whether they are by the book or not.
To start off, I want you to focus on the ball position for your bunker shots. I prefer to keep the ball somewhere between the middle and the back of my stance. This allows for me to hit the ball before my swing has time to slow down too much, which hinders the spin of my bunker shot. And if you are wondering, yes, I do swing 100% on all bunker shots. I want to ensure the ball is getting past the hole before it lands, because it will be spinning back immediately after landing, which is another reason why I push the ball back in my stance. This also allows for me to hit down on the ball more, causing more spin to occur.
The next thing I want you to look at is the aim of your feet. I prefer to open my stance way up, somewhat like a flop shot… but of course, out of the bunker. I like to treat my bunker shots as a flop shot, so I swing across my body with a wide open face on the club. This allows for me to pop the ball up quicker, and put more spin on it as well. This is not the easiest motion to get used to, so invest plenty of time to working on hitting the bunker shot with a stance that is honestly wide open and not facing the target at all.
Now that I have presented you with what I have done for so long, I do want to let you know of where exactly you should be aiming to hit the ball. The ideal spot to have the club face enter the bunker is one inch behind the ball. This allows for you to pop the ball up faster, which ensures you are getting out of the bunker a bit easier. If it makes sense for you, simply draw a line one inch behind the ball during your practice session. When you are hitting the shots, focus on hitting the line behind the ball… rather than the ball itself.
So, you know what to do to hit a strong bunker shot, but I did mention earlier how long it actually took me to perfect my bunker play. This is not going to be the easiest thing to learn, I mean think about it, you are hitting out of sand and it is mentally as challenging as any shot in the game of golf. I highly suggest that you sit aside plenty of time to work on this, and if you really want to master the bunker shot, then you are going to need to invest tons of hours to perfecting it. I know, I said it only took me 4 hours to perfect my bunker play, but that is actually how long it took me to learn the proper motion that I have now been using for about 13 years. With that said, I still work on my bunker game every single day, perfecting the motion that I have used for so long. The last thing I want to do is get rusty and lose the strong play that I worked so hard to gain. I will leave you with a challenge: Sit aside 4 hours (minimum) of one practice day. During this time, I want you to really focus on ball position, swing power, and where you are aiming. It will take some time to get used to aiming away from the target, but you will get there. Don’t get frustrated with the first dozen or so shots, because as I have mentioned before, it will take a lot of time to get this to where you want it to be. Bunker play is the fastest way to impress your golf buddies, while shaving multiple shots off of your typical round. If you are willing to invest the time to hit a strong bunker shot at any point in time, then you will eliminate a lot of stress that comes with this challenging game.