How To Play A Golf Bunker Shot If You Have No Follow Through

Unfortunately not all errant shots heading towards the sand will the find the centre of a bunker; they could end up against the front lip. This can be a daunting shot because the golfer must face the uninviting prospect of hammering into the bunker s lip after striking the ball.

Players stuck up against the front lip will be unable to avoid this impact if they want to move the ball forward and not out sideways. But this shot does not need to hold the golfer hostage with fear. By taking certain precautions it is possible to play and have a successful outcome.


One of the biggest obstacles facing the golfer, apart from the bunker lip, is fear. This fear of hitting through the ball and smashing into the edge of the bunker can cause the golfer to quit on the shot. This is a dangerous thing to do because the player not only risks leaving the ball in the bunker, but also back up against the lip and possibly in the divot just created.

To avoid this, commitment and bravery is required - commitment to play the shot and bravery about the inevitable impact with the bunker lip.

Hitting hard

This links into the golfer s commitment to play the bunker shot. Because of the ball s proximity to the bunker lip, the player needs to get the ball up very quickly which requires club head speed.

By focusing on striking hard through the ball, this extra speed can be achieved and the ball should pop up and out of the bunker avoiding the face.

Keep the hands relaxed

Golfer who are playing this difficult shot should be prepared to hit the lip or face of the bunker but any possible pain can be avoided by keeping the hands very relaxed. By keeping the hands relaxed throughout the swing, when the club hits the front lip, players will find it easier to let the club go and minimize the vibrations usually sent up the shaft. Many players who are successful at executing this shot may let go of the club all together after hitting the ball. If you do let go make sure the ball is on its way first!

By committing to this difficult shot, players can take away the fear factor. Hitting hard whilst keeping the hands relaxed will not only provide the power to get the ball up and out of the bunker but also allow the golfer to let go of the club after impact and avoid any nasty vibrations flying back up the shaft into the arms and upper body.

The Technique

The Technique

Playing a greenside bunker shot from a good lie is actually a pretty easy task. While this shot does scare many amateur golfers, their fears are misplaced in most cases. With some basic technique and a little bit of practice, the average golfer is capable of creating some impressive shots from the sand. Believe it or not, in many cases it will be easier to get up and down from a greenside bunker than it will be from the rough.

Of course, all of that goes out the window if you happen to draw a bad lie in the bunker. If your ball plugs under the sand, for example, you will be lucky to get out of the trap at all. Even if you do, hitting the ball close to the hole in such a scenario would be unlikely at best. In this article, we aren t going to discuss a bad lie so much as a bad situation. When you find your ball resting up near the side of the bunker – to where you will have no follow through on the shot – you need to have a plan for how to get out of the situation successfully. This is a situation which will (hopefully) come up only on a rare occasion, but you still need to know how to handle it properly.

It should go without saying that the best way to deal with this kind of situation is to keep your ball out of the bunkers to begin with. Generally speaking, the average amateur golfer doesn t give the bunkers located around the course enough respect. Every golfer pays attention when there is a water hazard in play, but most golfers don t think twice about aiming a shot near a greenside bunker. If you happen to hit the ball in that bunker, though, all bets are off. You could easily draw a bad lie in the sand, or your ball could be up against the edge, and you may wind up wasting several strokes before the hole is complete. As you make your plan for any given approach shot, show respect to the bunkers and do what you can to make sure your ball lands somewhere on the grass.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Analyzing the Situation

Analyzing the Situation

No matter what kind of situation you face in a greenside bunker, your first step should always be to analyze the situation and figure out what options are available for the shot. Can you make a full swing to send the ball up toward the hole? Do you have a good lie in the sand? Is the sand soft and fluffy, or damp and firm? There are many variables to think about before you decide how you are going to proceed with the shot.

In a case where the ball is up against the side of the bunker, you are going to have to analyze the situation from a few different perspectives. The key points to think about in this case are as follows –

  • Can you get out at all? This is always the first question to ask. Standing back and looking at the position of the ball in relation to the side of the bunker, do you think it s even possible to get out? If not, you ll need to start looking for ways you can play the ball into a better position in the sand for your next shot. It is never fun to give in to the fact that you can t get out of the bunker in a single shot, but it is important to be honest with yourself in this moment. If you attempt a shot that has no chance of success, you might wind up in an even worse position for your next swing.
  • Is it worth the risk? Let s say you find your ball in a position that you believe will allow you to get out of the trap in a single swing. Now, you have to ask yourself whether or not it is going to be worth the risk to attempt the shot that will take you out of the sand and back onto the green. There is always some degree of risk with this type of shot, as the ball may hit the side of the bunker and come back into the trap. If you are only going to be able to dump the ball out of the sand and into the deep rough, you might be making a mistake to even give it a try. Think carefully about the risk/reward proposition you are facing and make a logical decision.
  • Reading the slope. When up against the side of a bunker, you need the ball to get up into the air quickly if you want to escape. The swing you make, and the club you use, are going to have something to do with the launch angle of the shot. However, those aren t the only factors. It is also necessary to pay attention to the slope of the ground below your feet. If the sand is sloped up toward the edge of the trap, you will get a higher launch and have a better chance to get out. However, if the sand is flat, or even sloped downward slightly, it is going to be nearly impossible to hit a high shot.

It might take a minute to figure out what you are going to do with this kind of shot, and that s okay. The outcome of this single shot will have a lot to do with your score at the end of the round, so take your time and think through all of the options. You don t want to rush into anything, especially if that means playing the shot more aggressively than you should. You should always do your part to promote a good pace of play on the course, but there are situations which call for taking a bit more time – and this is one of them.

As you work on deciding how to play this shot up against the side of a bunker, remember that it is always better to err on the side of caution. The big mistake you want to avoid is placing your ball in an even worse position for the next stroke than it is in for the current shot. Even if you have to waste a stroke playing back into a better part of the bunker, that isn t a big deal. Your ball is already in trouble on this hole, so you shouldn t be expecting to get away with a par. The goal now is to limit the damage, be smart, and move on to the next hole as quickly as possible.

How to Play a Golf Bunker Shot if You Have No Follow Through

How to Play a Golf Bunker Shot if You Have No Follow Through

In this section, we are going to assume that you have decided to go ahead and try to hit the ball out of the bunker in a single shot. That means you are going to be swinging toward the side of the trap, trying to hit a high shot without any kind of follow through on your swing. To say the least, this is a challenge. Professional golfers struggle with this type of shot when it comes up, which should tell you everything you need to know about its difficulty.

There is nothing we can say which is going to make this shot easy, but we should be able to help you deal with it successfully by offering a few tips. Please find those tips listed below.

  • Make a full backswing. Despite the fact that you don t have room for a follow through, you are still going to need to make a full backswing. Plenty of speed is going to be required if you are going to get the ball up into the air as quickly as is necessary for this shot. Without a big enough backswing, you ll never be able to put the club into the sand with the kind of power necessary to clear the lip of the bunker. Every good explosion shot from a greenside bunker starts with a big backswing, and this one is no different.
  • Keep your head down. You aren t going to be surprised to see this point included in the list. Keeping your head down is pretty much a key ingredient in any shot that you hit around the course. It is important to highlight in this case because you are going to be tempted to look up early as a result of the difficulty of the shot. Anytime your ball is in a precarious position, you ll want to look up early to see how you have done. Of course, looking up early could cause you to hit the shot thin, which would be one of the worst possible outcomes. A thin shot in this situation is going to slam right into the side of the bunker in front of you, and the ball could go anywhere from that point. In fact, it might even come back to hit you, which would lead to a penalty. Be disciplined, keep your head down, and only look up once the ball is on its way.
  • Let go with the right hand at impact. This is the key change you are going to make when you don t have room to follow through in a bunker. As the club enters the sand, you are going to let go of the grip with your right hand and finish the shot with only your left hand on the grip. This technique is tricky at first, but it isn t as hard as it sounds with a little bit of practice. Once you master the timing of this shot, you ll be able to send the club into the sand using power from your right hand, but then decelerate the club quickly by taking that right hand off the club. The resistance provided by the sand will slow the club head down rapidly, and the club will hopefully come to a stop before it hits the wall of the bunker in front of you. Even if you do hit the side of the bunker slightly on the follow through, there shouldn t be enough force left in the swing to cause any problems.
  • Play the shot with a wide-open face. There can be no debate on this point – if you are going to hit a high shot that clears the edge of the bunker you are facing, the club face needs to be wide open. At address, rotate the face open so that the club has nearly 90* of effective loft. Be sure to turn the face open prior to taking your grip, otherwise the club will just close back down to its normal position once you start the swing. Some amateur golfers have trouble trusting this adjustment, but it is essential. Swinging a club with 60* of loft, without turning the face open, is not going to provide enough lift to get out of this tricky situation.

It needs to be noted at this point that there is a degree of risk involved with this shot from a physical standpoint. If you swing through the sand and into the side of the bunker with too much force, you could potentially injure your hands or wrists. It is even possible to break your club if you really slam into the bunker wall on your follow through.

Due to these risks, you need to practice this shot in a situation where there is no risk of hitting the bunker wall. Find a practice bunker at your local course and hit these kinds of shots from the middle of the trap. You will just need to pretend that the lip is right in front of you for this kind of practice. Visualize the edge of the bunker being just in front of your ball and work on the technique of letting go with the right hand at impact. With some practice, you will have a much better chance of pulling this shot off successfully when faced with it on the course.