How to Set Up for a Golf Bunker Shot

By Laird Small

Bunker Shot Set Up

In our previous bunker segment we have covered things like controlling the bottom of the swing and the swing shape. I want to be able to talk about how your set up should be in the bunker. The same set up that you would use for a chip shot outside the bunker is what you want to use in the bunker. That means I want your body square or parallel to the target line. Here is an example.

Tips for Staying Parellel to Target Line

I am going to draw a line in the sand going through the ball and in the direction of the target. Then I am going to draw another line that is parallel to it about one foot towards me. What I want to have is a stance line and alignment. It is exactly parallel to my target line. I do not have to open my stance up and do the kind of swing where I have to swing across the target line. Here is the reason why. When you are hitting the shot we want to be able to impart true backspin on the ball so that when the ball lands on the green it hits and releases and you have a chance to make the shot. Most of the guys and gals on the tour that is what they are doing. They are not swinging out and across it because when you swing across it that puts a sidespin on the ball and makes it hard to control the amount of rollout.

Determine the Bounce of the Club

Here is the other element to it. It is how the face is going to be applied or delivered to the ball. First of all we want to look at the bounce of the club. The bounce of the club is the back end of the club where you can see that the back part of the club is on my finger and the leading edge is higher than that. That is the degrees of bounce. In bunker shots we do not want to have it where the leading edge is hitting first because that is where the club is going to dig. We actually want the back end of the club to skid through the sand.

Don't Open the Clubface

The other part that is very, very important, a lot of players open the clubface and by opening the clubface you are actually minimizing the surface area of the golf club to hit the ball. It makes it very difficult to be repetitive in that. Here is another solution for you, you have the entire hitting area of the face but you are going to lay the handle back. By laying the handle back you keep the entire hitting surface available to you through the shot plus you also use the bounce. It is going to look a little weird because the clubhead is going to be ahead of the handle. A lot of times people are used to having the handle ahead of the clubhead and then they open the clubface, so it is going to look a little different.

Play the Ball Forward in Your Golf Stance

The solution to that is to play the ball a little more forward in your stance. That fits nicely with how we have positioned your body over the ball to repeat the bottom of your swing. Let me show you what it is going to look like with a shot. I am going to take my address position and set up. My handle is behind the ball. Weight is on my forward leg and I am parallel to the shot. Ball came out pretty nice. I have a chance to save my par. Try this technique, it will make bunker shots significantly easier for you.

Category: Bunker Play

About the Instructor

Laird Small
Laird Small
Pebble Beach Golf Academy
1700 17-Mile Drive
Pebble Beach, CA 93953
Tel: 831-622-8650