How to Hit a Bunker Shot

, GolfLink Editor
Updated January 12, 2024
Golfer hitting out of bunker
    Golfer hitting out of bunker

Most amateurs are scared to death of sand traps. With a little practice, however, you can learn how to hit bunker shots stress-free. Here’s Jason Baile, Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, to give you some keys to becoming a better bunker player.

Keys to Becoming a Better Bunker Player

Jason Baile, Director of Instruction at Jupiter Hills Club, teaches three keys to hitting bunker shots. They are:

  1. Ball position
  2. Create a stable base
  3. Adjust your grip

Here’s how to execute each of these keys and start making bunkers fear you, instead of the other way around.


1. Ball Position

Set up in the bunker with the ball forward in your stance. Baile demonstrates using the logo on your shirt – typically on the left side of your chest – as a good reference point. 

If you’re a lefty, or your shirt doesn’t have a logo, put the ball forward in your stance so it’s about mid-way between the center of your chest and your armpit.

2. Create a Stable Base

Hitting a shot from the sand is an unstable environment, so Baile stresses the importance of setting up with a stable base.

To do this, take a wider-than-normal stance and flare your toes slightly. Your knees should feel like they’re over the balls of your feet and it should almost feel like you’re sitting. This will give your swing a solid base.

3. Adjust Your Grip

As Baile points out, this is a special shot, and it requires a special grip.

Before you put your hands on the club, open the club face. This will help you utilize the bounce of the club at the bottom of your swing. 

Then, when you grip the club, make a slightly stronger grip with your lead (glove) hand, so it’s a little more on top of the club. Grip the club slightly weaker with your trail hand, which will also put it a little more on top of the club. 

Gripping the club with both hands slightly more on top of the club will help you keep the face open throughout the swing, and also helps your wrists hinge, which creates speed.


Practice Makes Perfect

Take these keys to the practice bunker and learn the feel of the proper setup for a successful bunker shot. Once you’re set up for success, simply splash the sand with your club and watch the ball pop out of the bunker with ease.

Once you’ve got the setup down, a great way to really dial in your bunker shots is to draw a line in the sand perpendicular to the target line, and without a ball, make practice swings that hit the line, land in front of the line, and land behind the line. This drill will train you to control the bottom of your swing.