The 10 hardest bunker shots in golf (and how to hit them)

Bunker shots aren't easy — but not every one is created equally.

Getty Images

Greenside bunker shots are one of my favorite things to teach.

I wasn’t a very good bunker player in college. I didn’t understand what I was taught and didn’t get how my adjustments affected the shots. But once I started teaching, everything began to make more sense.

Once you start to understand how certain adjustments can affect the shot, playing out of a bunker will become easier for you, too.

Here are 10 different bunker shots with tips on how to hit them.

1. High lip

Bunker shots over a high lip can be intimidating, but as long as you use the proper technique they don’t have to be so scary. Start by taking a high-lofted wedge — preferably a 56 or 60 degree — and start with the face slightly open. Have the handle pointed toward your belly button and away from the target, which will increase loft and bounce. Take plenty of sand as you let the club glide beneath the ball, making sure you hold the finish.

2. Short

Short bunker shots can be tricky because while you need to swing hard enough to get the ball out, you don’t want to hit it too far. Set up with a high-lofted wedge and position the ball in the front of your stance. Open your clubface and allow the club to glide beneath the ball. Swinging slower will help with keeping the ball from coming out too hot, but you need to make sure you swing hard enough to at least get the ball out.

3. Buried lie

A buried lie is not easy, but if you adjust your expectations and approach you can be successful. Position the ball at the front of your stance and drop your front shoulder so your swing is more steep. Use the leading edge and hit down into the sand behind the ball. This should pop the ball up and out of the bunker.

4. Packed sand

Sand that is packed together is common, especially when the course has lots of moisture. The technique is much like what you use for a buried lie. You want to keep the clubhead from skipping off the sand and into the ball, so you must use the leading edge to dig behind the ball. This should produce a shot that reacts very similarly to a buried lie.

5. Downhill lie

Much like a downhill lie from the fairway, you need to match your shoulder plane to the slope at address. The downhill lie will naturally de-loft the club, so choose a high-lofted wedge. Once you adjust your setup and club choice, approach the shot like you would any other bunker shot.

6. Long

Long bunker shots aren’t easy, but they can be fun when you know how to approach them. Take a low-lofted wedge like a gap or pitching wedge, open the face swing your normal swing. You still want to take some sand behind the ball, but everything else will be fairly standard.

All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy a linked product, GOLF.COM may earn a fee. Pricing may vary.

Ping Glide 4.0 Custom Wedge

A precision-machined face and grooves and new textured face blast increase spin and control, a larger CTP and softer steel improve the feel, and four distinct grind options maximize versatility on full and finesse shots around the greens and from the bunker. The compact, refined profile provides a confident and captured look at address. 8620 CARBON STEEL BODY, ELASTOMER CTP INSERT The multi-material construction combines 8620 carbon steel with a larger and softer elastomer insert to provide a soft, responsive feel. The additional volume of the custom tuning port allows for 36% more face contact. COMPACT SHAPE The Glide 4.0 setup appeals to the eye with its rounded, compact design that benefits from advancements to the lead edge and hosel transition. MILLED GROOVES & FACE BLAST In combination with the precision-milled face and grooves, the new Emery face blast adds more texture to the hitting surface, creating higher friction and more interaction between the club and ball for more spin and lower launch. FULL SHOTS: Lower-lofted wedges (50° and 52°) feature a 20° sidewall milled to maximize groove volume. AROUND THE GREEN: Higher-lofted options (54° – 60°) are milled with a 28° sidewall and a tighter radius to impart more spin and precision on shorter finesse shots and from the sand. FOUR GRIND OPTIONS Four differentiated sole grinds (S, W, T, E) are designed to match your angle of attack and typical turf conditions for improving your performance and versatility on full and partial shots. S GRIND Trail edge/heel relief Ample bounce Rounded lead edge Fits most golfers W GRIND Traditional full-sole design Most forgiving through the turf Rounded lead edge Optimized for square-face and bunker shots E GRIND High toe Improved lead-edge shaping Dished sole and tapered hosel for bunker performance T GRIND High lead-edge bounce Half-moon sole shaping Increased center bounce width
View Product

7. Back of bunker

With the ball at the back of a bunker, you’ll need to carry the ball further to make sure you escape the sand. Use a similar technique to the one used for long bunker shots and make your main goal getting the ball out of the sand.

8. Lots of sand

When there’s lots of sand, it can be difficult to get the club through the bunker. To avoid this, you want to make adjustments to your swing so it isn’t so steep. Use a high-lofted wedge that can glide through the sand and use a more rounded backswing and follow through.

9. Ball below feet

Widen your stance as much as needed to help lower the bottom of your swing arc. Make sure to keep your posture throughout the swing, with a focus on staying low enough to get the clubhead underneath the ball.

10. Fairway bunker

Fairway bunker shots have a little different technique than greenside ones. Position the ball in the center of your sand and use a club with enogugh loft to clear the lip. Make your normal swing and try to make contact with the ball before the sand.

generic profile image