How To Hit Golf Bunker Shots

By at February 4, 2013 | 2:01 am |FavoriteLoadingAdd To Favorites (listed below) Print

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In this golf tip I show the fastest, easiest way to hit golf bunker shots.  Once you know this you can stop worrying when you get in the sand and start gaining confidence.

After you watch this tip try to put a little effort in to practicing bunker shots on a regular basis.  It’s funny that so many people complain about their poor bunker play yet you rarely every see any one in them working on these shots.

Now that you will know how to hit these shots this should change your thought about practicing them.  Once you can consistently get the ball out of the bunker you can actually have more fun and change your opinion of these shots from difficult to easy.



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  1. barrybower, 1 year ago

    do you use say method (setup) for uphill and downhill binker shots

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago

      Barry, you are going to do this as well as you can in bunkers from those lies. I would watch the uphill downhill lie tips and add those adjustments to your bunkers shots but keep the hinge/turn the same.

  2. JaySchwarz, 1 year ago


    I’m having problems with bunkers that are packed down. It’s impossible to dig my feet in very deep, and the club head just bounces up when it contacts the sand.

    How best to handle this situation?

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago

      A couple ways you should play this:

      1. Just like a normal shot and pick it off the surface. Just do your normal set up but grip down about a half inch. This will make sure you hit the ball first.

      2. Play it like a knock down shot. Ball off the back the back foot, grip 3 to 4 knuckles and hand ahead. Pick it up going back and hit down. There is a little body rotation but really you are trying to create the descending blow.

      Watch: Knock Down Shot:

      Be very careful with this shot. If you hit it just right the ball will check up. If you are even a little off it will skip over the green. Also, you need to be aware of the lip of the bunker. Too high and you will not get the ball out.

      Hope this helps.

  3. chrisrasmussen, 1 year ago

    Hi Paul. When you say “don’t look behind the ball” when making a sand shot, i.e. your feet digging in basically will cause your club to enter the sand below the ball………where do your eyes aim once you have set up?

    All the best and just signed up for a year membership; the site is great!

    Chris Rasmussen

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago

      Chris, what I was getting at is to not look at a spot behind the ball and try to hit that spot. You are looking at the ball. You know that because you dug your feet down you will hit behind the ball so it’s just a little different way of thinking about it.

      In the past people have said to try to hit the spot a few inches behind the ball. This causes the person to use the arms instead of the lower body to hit the shot. This is what I’m trying to avoid.

      So set up as I suggest, hinge the club into the backswing and focus on using your legs and hips to hit your bunker shots all while you are looking at the ball.

  4. StephenWood, 1 year ago

    Where I play, the bunkers often do not have fluffy sand. It is either very shallow, sometimes packed, sometimes wet and extremely dense. The sand is large-granule and coarse. Oftentimes, there is no good way to know how really shallow the sand is. The shot is almost like hitting off of hard pan. But then, if you play like hard pan, there is just enough sand to thwart the shot.

    Any tips for really heavy sand or wet sand, or shallow sand?

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


      You need to experiment to see what works for you. Try varying how much you dig your feet in. Also, you use a square face to allow the club to dig into the sand to get the ball out. Be careful because you may end up hitting the ball too far. In which case you need to shorten up the bakswing and not hit it too hard.

      The idea here is that if you open the face the club will bounce off the sand and you will hit the ball thin. So you need it to dig in. The square face does this. If you dig your feet in a little when you set up, you are a little lower than the ball so the club will hit a little behidn the ball. If you cannot even dig in your feet then you have to pick it off the surface.

      If it is hard packed sand the club will not dig in so you stand on the surface of the sand ad grip down a little. Then you are picking the club off the surface. Vary the length of your backswing for the distance you need to hit the ball.

      Again, there is no secret. Just experiemnt and see what works based on how compact your sand is.

  5. Earl GGissing, 1 year ago

    Paul Wilson is the greatest GOLF Instructor in the World. I have been enjoying all the lessons from Ignition Golf. I said you have a wonderful voice and a great delivery. Everything is so clear and easy to understand.You repeat things to make it more understandable. But, the most important thing is that, in the early days, YOU called me back to answer a question about getting the tapes to work properly.I wish I would have gotten your instructions much earlier. Thanks very much. I want to break 90.

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago

      Earl, Thank you for the kind words and support. I truly appreciate it.

      Keep working on the swing positions and loosening up the arms. Breaking 90 is a very do-able goal.

  6. GeorgeNordhaug, 1 year ago

    Paul, thank you for all your hard work on these tips, how do you control the distance when hitting out of the bunkers? Is it faster rotation with your hips? Again thank you.

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


      Glad you like the tips. Thanks. I will be doing a tip on this shortly.

      You can do this 3 ways:

      1. Open or close the face more of less.

      2. Dig your feet in more or less.

      3. Turn your body faster or slower.

      I don’t open the face as much and turn faster to hit it longer.

      Just experiment and see what works best for you.

  7. paulelliott, 1 year ago

    Hi Paul.
    In ireland generally the sand is not fluffy like yours!
    It is normally wet and heavy or even hard packed!
    You cannot open the clubface too much.
    I use a 62 degree wedge in wet sand but I am inconsistent.
    What are your views on using 62 degrees, I keep the face square and out the ball pops!
    And should i need to open the face at all with a 62 degree wedge in dry fluffy type sand.

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


      If you are in wet heavy sand you need to have the face square so the clubface digs in and gets the ball out. You seem to know how to do this. Yes, I would open the face on fluffier sand. I am okay with a 62 degree wedge. If you like it keep using it. I learn with a 56 degree so I like to hit the club with an open face.

      The inconsistencies are coming from you having an inconsistent swing or lack of practice and experience. I am hitting these shots with my body rotation not by hitting with my hands and arms. My body turns slowly in life. If this is what is controlling the swing I can consistently repeat this body rotation every time. Then the shot becomes dependent on how far I dig my feet in. Dig in too much and the ball is short. Not enough and the ball goes long. Also, the variance of the face affects directions too. So keep working on your technique. Keep making the arms powerless and keep trying to power the swing with the lower body rotation. If you do you will find the consistency you are after.

  8. paulelliott, 1 year ago

    Also Paul i am finding it difficult when the flag is placed close to a bunker i am always long should i shorten my backswing? Sometimes when i shorten my backswing a quit on bunker shot

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


      This is a very tough shot with the face square. When you square the face the ball is going to come out hotter thus causing your shots to be long. With the open face the club slides under the ball which hits it higher with more spin so it can stop quicker. I think with the square face swinging easier is the way to go but keep in mind when you swing easier you get less spin so the ball will roll more. I would be getting the touch to get the ball just onto the very front green. So start practicing like this. Pick out a spot on the very front and try to get the touch to hit your ball only this hard. I would think you are practicing to the pin which is the wrong target. Give this a try.

  9. paulelliott, 1 year ago

    Thanks alot i am a typical 6 handicapper i dont practice enough out of bunkers!
    I tried what you advised brilliant the odd shot i quit on but i will practice more out of bunkers how many times a week should i practice bunker shots is once a week enough?

    Great site i joined up cause i appreciate all the hard work you put in, there are not too many teachers /instructors like you!
    PS I think you should come to N.Ireland on a cold wet stormy miserable day in February to see how your swing holds up. You are spoiled in Las Vegas!
    All the best!

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


      Thank you for the feedback and thank you for joining. I truly appreciate it.

      I’m sick of people not knowing how the golf swing works and people not improving. Hopefully, I can keep helping golfers out there play their best. Just have to get the word out.

      Yes, Vegas is great. Glad I moved here.

      • paulelliott, 1 year ago

        I am amazed how many instructors dont even mention the importance of loose wrists or wrist hinge, maybe they dont want to, to get you to return?!

        • Paul Wilson

          Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


          I find it amazing too. Unfortunately the great majority are working on impact or even staring the arms first in the downswing. I see it differently and hope to change how everyone thinks.

  10. paulelliott, 1 year ago

    Yes Paul the old lessons were start the downsing by pulling with the left arm!

  11. paulelliott, 1 year ago

    what time do you take your videos looks like really early!!

  12. paulelliott, 1 year ago


    How dop you play a greenside bunker shot downhill lie at back of bunker with a big lip in front of you?

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


      This is a very touch shot. You either play it out sideways or you pick the club up way outside and cut way across it. I showed this shot in the tip last week about how to practice (not in great detail).

      I will put it on the tips list.

  13. paulelliott, 1 year ago

    Do you play it way back in your stance?

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


      No. If you do you will hit the ball first.

  14. paulelliott, 1 year ago

    My bunker shots have came on leaps and bounds thanks.
    I now am confident about thinking about getting ball close to flag and get up and down most times cant believe I would ever say that because I use to try to hit 2 inches behind the ball which was not very consistent.
    All you people out there dont try this use Paul’s method with your body
    Thanks for all your help and i am now more a happy bunker player!

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


      That’s great to hear.

      Keep up the good work.

  15. paulelliott, 1 year ago


    One small point.When im in a bunker how do i play a bunker shot when the ball is beneath your feet at side of bunker, I find i am swinging mainly with arms because of lack of leg movement on downslope

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 1 year ago


      This is going to be a manufactured shot. I will do a tip on it someday. In a case like this if you cannot really move your legs just turn your hips. This is what the legs do. If the hips turn your upper body will turn allowing the arms to come down and through.

  16. carlosgomez, 11 months ago

    Paul do you have a video where it shows how to hit the long bunker shot
    like 30-40 yards thanks****

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 11 months ago


      I do not have this one shot yet. Basically, you are going to turn your hips faster, not open the face as much or not dig in as deep. I use the first 2. It takes effort in the hip turn so trust it and turn the hips faster. If you do you will generate the speed you are looking for.

      Hopefully, you watched these:

      Bunker Technique:

      Body and Club Alignment:

  17. RaymondCHASTEL, 9 months ago

    Paul ,quite an Innovative way of playing sand shots ! I was taught ,a long Time ago ,to put all my weight on THE forward leg and cut across THE ball ,with THE stance Turned left as you advocate and have a fairly long backswing to get Speed at THE clubhead ,hit one and a half inch in front of THE ball .
    There was n

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 9 months ago


      Yes, it really works. If you do it your old way you now have to work on 2 different swings. Who has time for that? Most people have trouble enough working on one.

  18. myronhenrickson, 2 months ago

    Paul you are by far tjhe best golf teacher i have ever found. I taught high school for nine years and you have mastered how to teach. I have a question on putting. I like the idea of feeling as you are throwing the ball to the hole. I have never thrown anything without looking at what I am throwing at. Should I look at the hole while I am throwing. Thank you so much for your great ideas.

    • Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson, 2 months ago


      Thank you very much. I appreciate the feedback. My style came from years of thinking “what is this person thinking as I am saying what I am saying.” I used to think like that for years.

      As far as putting is concerned you should be looking at the ball as you hit it. You can look at the hole as a drill. This will get you thinking of the target. Give it a try. Become target oriented. That is the key.

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