Different Ways to Play Out of a Bunker

Playing from a bunker is a challenge that many new golfers are afraid of – but actually isn’t that scary once you learn some basic techniques and get a little practice. In fact, in some situations, you would actually be better off down in a bunker than stuck in some long rough around the green. Once you find yourself in a bunker, you need a good game plan for getting out quickly, and as close to the hole as possible.

In general, there are two basic methods for hitting a greenside bunker shot. The one you choose for a given shot depends on the lie you have in the sand, the kind of shot you need to hit, and your personal comfort level with each technique.

The Explosion Shot

This is the ‘standard’ bunker shot, and the one you will see most often when watching golf on TV. In this shot, you will use a sand wedge and open the face so that the club has as much loft as possible. Then, you swing the club aggressively down into the sand and under the ball, using the sand to actually lift the ball up out of the bunker and on to the green.

With just a little practice, this shot actually becomes rather easy quite quickly. You should be able to float the ball up softly into the air, and keep it from rolling very far once it hits the green. The drawback to this shot is that it is hard to hit more than a short distance, so long bunker shots become a real challenge to use the explosion. Also, out of hard-packed sand you might have trouble getting under the ball enough to use this method.

The Chip Shot

When the sand is hard-packed, or you have a long way to go across the green to reach the hole, you might want to consider the chip shot from the sand. The name describes exactly what this shot is – you use your regular chipping motion to get the ball up and out of the bunker. Most likely, you will want to use a less-lofted wedge like a pitching wedge to hit this shot.

The advantage to this approach is that it works better out of hard sand, and the ball should bounce and roll when it lands – allowing you to get to hole locations further away. In deep bunker, however, you probably won’t have enough height to use this shot effectively.