Bunkers are an integral part of the golfing experience today and one of the defences to most golf courses especially modern ones. Last month we addressed the importance of understanding bounce on your wedges. Bounce plays a huge role in playing greenside bunkers. The softer or fluffier the sand the more bounce one would need. If the sand is wet or firm then a wedge with less bounce is needed.

Here are some tips to playing better bunker shots:

Firstly look at the distance you have from the ball to the flag and how much green you have to work with. This will help you decide on whether you need to hit the bunker shot high so it lands softly or to go for the lower “chunk and run” method.

Secondly look at texture of the sand. If it looks soft and fluffy then look to playing the shot with the wedge that has more bounce. A good way to help determine the sand texture is to look at where the ball pitched into the bunker. If the pitch is deep then the sand will tend to be soft and fluffy, and if the pitch is shallow or there isn’t one then there is a good chance that the sand is firm.

Once you have chosen the appropriate wedge then try to set up in the bunker in a way that helps you execute the shot without guessing too much. We normally are instructed to hit about two inches behind the ball. Under pressure we tend to hit too little or too much sand. A good method to use is to grip the wedge you have chosen at a standard length (do not grip down the shaft).


Sink your feet two inches into the sand and then make a normal swing. The club will bottom out at the same depth your feet are in the sand.

The other key is to ensure you don’t decelerate on the downswing. Many golfers take too long a backswing and then try and hit a softer shot. If the clubhead decelerates then it will usually penetrate the sand in the wrong place resulting in a fat shot (that might not get out of the bunker) or a thin shot that could fly the green.

John-Dickson-Dec-2015-pic-1So to recap. Gather information on the distance, the type of sand you are faced with and what wedge to use. Set up correctly and commit to the shot and the chances of you hitting a better bunker shot will improve.




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John Dickson
Head Teaching Professional at
Copperleaf Golf Estate
Contact: 082 990 7201
Email: John@dicksongolf.co.za