Turn Awkward Bunker Shots Into Regular Sand Saves

One of the most difficult shots in golf is the awkward bunker shot, pictured here. The ball has just trickled into the trap, meaning I have to take my stance outside the bunker with the ball well below my feet. Furthermore, the pin is a good 30 yards up the green, requiring a precise running shot to save par.

This is the type of shot that many of us are guilty of not practicing, mainly in the hope that we are never faced with such a tough play out on the course. But the fact is that every now and again, you will draw this type of lie, and you need to know how to minimise the damage and maybe even make a crucial save. Here are three easy tips to help you turn these awkward bunker shots into par saving opportunities.

Lower the base of your swing at set-up

As with most departments in the game, the key is with a strong set-up position. As the ball is well below your feet, try to widen your stance. This will help you get closer to the ground and give you more chance of making the correct strike. You can also flare your feet out so that you can over-flex your knees to the point where they are over your toes.

Stay down on your backswing

The biggest fault you can make here is to lift up as you take the club back, losing the angles that you established at address. Try to make a normal backswing like you would in a greenside bunker, but as you hinge your wrists, try to feel that your left knee flexes down and towards the ball. This will allow your chest to stay down and over the ball and help you catch the sand first. If you lift up on the backswing, you'll struggle to catch the sand before the ball and likely blade it - the worst possible result.

Finish short and low

On your followthrough, feel that the club extends past the body and stops at anabbreviated finish. I try to feel that the club stops around the mid chest point. This will encourage acceleration through the ball and also a feeling of keeping your body down and over the shot as opposed to lifting and standing up and out of the shot. You'll catch the ball a little heavy, which will help it run out and up towards the pin.


July 1

  • Left Image - Widen your stance and flare your feet outwards, which will enable you to squat down into the shot
  • Right Image - As you take the club back, hold your posture by feeling your left knee moves down towards the ball

July 2

  • Left Image - You won't achieve much control from this lie, so take a bit more sand and play a shot that runs out
  • Right Image - A shorter followthrough will help you accelerate while committing to the shot

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