How to Hit Bunker Shots from Hard or Wet Sand

By | on February 4, 2023 | 40 Comments | Array


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Paul Wilson is the creator of Swing Machine Golf and founder of Ignition Golf. Paul's golf swing technique is based on the Iron Byron swing machine. YouTube Channels: Paul Wilson Golf and Ignition Golf Tips. Please Join me on Google+

40 Responses to “How to Hit Bunker Shots from Hard or Wet Sand”

  1. Paul-
    Thanks for the great tip… this will surely help myself and my fellow Florida players escape the less-than-perfect types of bunkers we often see throughout the year-round season

  2. May 10, 2013


    Still using a sand wedge?

  3. May 10, 2013


    Hooray Paul
    been waiting for this one!You didn’t mention if this was more of a arm swing a/c the swinging DOWN?

    • Tim,

      I said you pick it up (this would be done with your arms) and hit down (arms also). I also said your hips turn a little as you hit this shot but don’t worry about them too much because you need to hit down on it. So, you will feel your arms when you hit this shot.

  4. May 10, 2013


    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for covering this. We find a lot of hard sand in the north east.

  5. I assume you hit the ball first instead instead of behind it as you normally would in a bunker with more sand. Are you trying to pick it clean?

    • Thomas,

      No you are going to hit the sand first. The square face will dig it out. If you were picking it you would not dig down at all. I do mention this in the tip.

  6. May 15, 2013


    Hi Paul,
    Sure enough,last night in my golf league,I was faced with this. I was in a DEEP green side bunker,with little sand. I recalled just watching this video, and glad to say I got it out. Did not quite make the green, but was just off in the rough. I was pleased from where I started!


    • Tim,

      That’s great. It works really well once you get used to it. Keep in trying it in practice until you trust it.

  7. Paul ,I’m living on the FRENCH RIVIERA,the weather is beautiful most of the Time ,but the sand traps on the course I Play regularly on are Made of hard packed dirt :I can’t of course dig in my feet : I Play this shot diferently ,I hit the sand just behind the ball ,very close to it ,and I try to “slip”the clubface under the ball :this raises the ball very much and puts a lot of backspin on the ball ,which stops quickly .With YOUR m

    • Raymond,

      I did a tip on this here:

      How to Hit Bunker Shots from Hard or Wet Sand:

      • Paul,Your method is the safest way to get out of a”dirt hard packed “sand trap ,but onserving your shot the ball does roll a long way .If the pin is placed close to the sand trap ,you have to stop the ball closer,threfore put backspn on it .theony way to acheive that is to “slip”the clubface Under the ball and take minimal sand.
        Of course it’s damn difficult to coordinate rotation ,backswing, hands and arms to enter the sand a wee bit before the ball and takes a lot of practice to get consistent. I picked this shot watching SEVE BALLESTEROS playing it at one of the LANCOME TROPHIES ,played at my Home Course at SAINT NOM LA BRETECHE ,near PARIS :BALLESTEROS was playing with two top US players (FREDDIE COUPLES was one of them ) who had got decently out of the hard packed sand trap ,but had not got close to the pin:with his own peculiar method BALLESTEROS put his ball on the edge of the hole ,to the great bewilderment of the two US players .
        Another master of the short game today is MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ who won yesterday, 18th of May 2014, the SPANISH OPEN in the 3 players play off ,though he was ,on this 18th hole of sudden death 42 meters shorter on the drive than his younger opponent .He did well also in the AUGUSTA MASTERS early this year ,though he is far from young,close to 50 years of age !
        Precision Iron play and short game are the keys o good scoring !

        • Raymond,

          This is definitely a tricky shot and takes tons of practice. If you can do it that’s great. Try getting the average player to hit a shot like this. I can’t get them to practice normal shot never mind difficult bunker shots.

  8. February 25, 2015


    Wow. Tried this technique at the range today and it worked amazing. Our course just opened after a short winter so the sand was fairly hard packed and wet. I grabbed my 56 and got all my shots out. Grabbed my 60 and did the same. Just focused on picking the club up and dropping it down. Worked awesome. Looking forward to trying out the regular technique when the sand softens up. I’m a terrible bunker player. I’ve always feared the sand but now at least I know how to play this shot. Thanks.

    • February 26, 2015

      Paul Wilson


      Glad you it worked. For just stop trying to hit a few inches behind the ball and you will be a great bunker player. You can do it.

  9. Paul; I have really been struggling out of the hard bunkers at the course where I play, so I thought I would let you know that I was in a competition yesterday and got into five green side bunkers ! However, I thought about your tip and got out on all occasions making no more than a two putt and a one putt on the last. I am very grateful and thought you might appreciate the feedback.

    • Anthony,

      That’s great news. Funny how everyone is looking for the magical way to hit bunker shots when really it is your normal golf swing with some set up modifications. Glad you tried it and saw that it works. Now every time you are practicing your full swing you are also working on your bunkers shots. Pretty soon it will be no big deal being in the sand.

  10. Thanks for another great tip! What speaks against using this technic with soft sand as well? (I struggle to get the desired direction with the standard bunker shot, with open face and aligned to the left).

    Thanks, Tom

  11. August 11, 2015


    Great tip for me. Even though I play in the desert (Phoenix area), our green side bunkers at my home course are usually wet under the surface due to the sprinklers. I have been using a lob wedge with less bounce but still opened the face and hit many too thin. I also noticed the shots were going straight and not to the right even with the open face, I suppose that is a side effect of the wet sand.

    I went out to our short game practice area last night and tried this in an are where the sand was wet underneath, it works great, especially with the lob wedge. It still pops out high enough to clear the lip of the bunker.

    • August 12, 2015

      Paul Wilson


      Very good. These are important shot especially if you are always playing from bunkers like this. If you can get out your confidence isn’t going to be high. Plus, this will affect your long game too. You will be scared in the middle of the fairway to not hit it into the sand so you will put pressure on your long game. If you can get out who care if you miss the green?

  12. November 2, 2015



    Great videos as always. Are you going to add this to the shots part of the bunker section for members?

  13. Paul ,I love this video lesson ,you showed it before and I already commented on it .
    I found a new way to play this (difficult ) shot which I get often here at the CANNES MANDELIEU golf course :i substitute the 56/58┬░sandwedge with the 51/52┬░ gap wedge which has uch less bounce ,and (Digging in my feet ) I play it as “normal” binker shot ,opening slightly rhe face :with ess “bounce ” the gap wedge digs in enough to skim the ball off the surface of the sand .

    • April 29, 2016

      Paul Wilson


      If this works keep doing it. These can be tricky so you need to be comfortable with the shot.

  14. Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately our sand is about three inches of very dry sand. If you have a downhill lie and you do not get the ball out you end up with a fried egg lie. Have you a solution for me?

  15. October 16, 2016



    Could you play this like a chip shot?


    • Avatar photo

      October 17, 2016

      Paul Wilson


      You can but you would need a low lip to get the ball out. I hit a shot like this once where there was a tree branch just outside the bunker. I had to get it out but keep it low. Worked great.

  16. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for the demo and tips on how to get out of sand as I normally see it in the Northeast.
    Here is my question: I currently play a 56/10 Sand Wedge and hit it fairly well and as such I have no complaints, however the club, like me, is getting on in its years. I am now considering another 56 degree but am wondering what if any difference would be achieved or noticed should I go to a 56/12 or 56/14 for the bounce?
    -Rich P

    • Avatar photo

      April 23, 2017

      Paul Wilson


      Thanks. Glad you liked it.

      A little more bounce isn’t going to do much. Going up to 14 may have an affect. I would probably stick with the 12 to be safe. Fluffier sand more bounce. Hard sand less bounce.

  17. January 13, 2020



    It looks like in wet sand, you are playing the ball back more in your stance than you would in softer sand and coming in closer to the ball. Is this correct?

    This is a great tip. Growing up my home course did not have bunkers due to high winds. So, I never learned bunker play well. At our State HS Championship, it rained and sleeted the night before. On the fourth hole a very narrow green had wet bunkers on each side. I went back and forth making an 11 on a par 4. Had I made a par, we would have won the state championship. As it was, we finished seventh. Needless to say, my teammates were none too thrilled me. This nightmare happened 50 years ago and it still plays in my head. Just wish I had this tip back then.

    Take care and thanks for all you do for us Paul!

    • Avatar photo

      February 4, 2020

      Paul Wilson

      I am still playing hte golf ball in the same spot. When you open your stance in the bunker the ball looks further back in your stance. So visually it will look slightly more back vs a normal iron set-up. You are going to dig your feet in more or less to vary how much behind the golf ball you hit when in different conditions in the bunker.

  18. December 7, 2020


    Hi Paul I think I remember seeing Gary Player use a very similar approach to a plugged ball in the bunker.
    Do you recommend this for plugged balls too?

  19. October 17, 2021


    Hi Paul, I used this tip today and it worked a treat. My playing partners were very impressed. Thanks

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    February 4, 2023


    Why don’t you get a bucket of water and poured in one spot in the bunker and then head out of that?

    Waiting for rain in Las Vegas could take a long while lol

  21. February 15, 2023



    In England in the winter time we often have to play out of frozen sand. Any suggestions as you can’t dig in to the sand at all.

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