Stop Hitting Thin Bunker Shots

By | on January 14, 2023 | 33 Comments |


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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+

33 Responses to “Stop Hitting Thin Bunker Shots”

  1. February 18, 2013


    Paul how about the other reason for hitting it thin.When theres only a inch of sand in the bunker with hardpan underneath(like concrete)even though youv’e done your technic correctly the wedge bounces off the hardpan and hits the ball.I bet theres lots of bunkers out there that are like this.

    • February 18, 2013

      Paul Wilson


      That would be correct. I couldn’t list everything.

      If you get into this situation square the face, dig in the best you can, pick it up and hit down or you simply grip down the amount you dug your feet in an pick it off the surface.

    • February 22, 2013


      Paul how about a video on Bunkers that are not in good shape ie:not a lot of sand,thick sand ,wet sand,hardpan underneath sand etc.I bet your students would appreciate this,I know I would

  2. February 18, 2013


    Dear Paul ,
    Your bunker lesson is unorthordox vs usual teaching :
    – you don’t advocate putting most of the weight on the front leg .
    – you don’t advise to open the stance.
    – there’ s a lot of body action in the swing.
    Should’ nt this shot resemble more to a pitch shot where you clip the ball much closer to where it lies ?

    • February 18, 2013

      Paul Wilson


      Why would I want to teach what is orthodox? I can get people to hit perfect bunker shots in seconds doing it this way. Think about it. If you learn a new swing you now have to practice twice as hard. You ever see anyone practicing bunker shots? I don’t. Why not use the swing you are already using? Dig in so you will hit the sand. Hinge going back. Turn coming down. Try it.

      I do want you to open your stance and the face. This is in the bunker technique video here:

      Body and Club Alignment:

      Bunker Technique:

  3. February 18, 2013


    Paul, bunkers are my worst nightmare. I am constantly hitting the balls to the top lip of the bunker. I desperately need you help! Thanks

    • February 18, 2013

      Paul Wilson


      You are trying to hit the ball in the bunker. Forget the ball. Keep the arms relaxed. Follow the technique here:

      Bunker Technique:

      Body and Club Alignment:

      • May 29, 2020


        It isn’t working. Maybe I can’t physically turn enough. My shots are thin.
        So, I’m using more of your pitching style but putting more weight on my front side. This change seems to work a little better. Greenside bunkers are my nightmare!

        • You need to be turning a lot faster than you are already. This is why you are having such a tough time getting the golf ball out of the bunker. Combined with that, start to add the touch the head position, because this will get the speed needed to get all the way through the golf ball. This would be a great drill for ytou to get enough speed to get the golf ball out of the bunker:
          DRILL: Touch Head In Follow Through:

  4. February 18, 2013



    If you the ball twice on the same swing coming out of the trap, what is the problem. I can assure you it is not intentional.


    • February 20, 2013

      Paul Wilson


      You are not generating enough clubhead speed. Without enough clubhead speed the club head will get hung up in the sand. You need more power to cut through it. So turn the hips faster. This will speed up the arms allowing them to cut through the sand.

  5. February 18, 2013



    That should read if you hit the ball twice.

  6. February 19, 2013


    I appreciate Tim Adams post. Even though I play mid scale courses, I am frustrated by the condition of the bunkers. I don’t understand your response to Tim regarding lousy bunkers. My group figures that the reason the golf press refers to “bunkers” instead of “sand traps” is that most courses refuse to buy sand!!

    • February 20, 2013

      Paul Wilson


      What don’t you understand. I am suggesting 2 ways to hit the ball from bunkers without a lot of sand. Our bunkers on certain holes do not have that much sand becasue the wind blows it out of the bunker. In this situation there is sand but not a lot. For these shots I square up the face, aim square, pick it up going back and hit down on it. In doing so the ball pops out every time.

      In situations where the base is rock hard and you have very little sand even squaring the face may have the club bounce off the sand. If this is the case you need to pick the ball from the surface. To do this you do not need to take sand. So you dig in your feet. Let’s sand it is 1 inch that you can actually dig in. Now, because you don’t want to take sand you grip down 1 inch. Also, square face, square stance. This means the club will hit the ball first thus allowing you to pick it off the surface.

      Give this a try the next time you are in this situation.

  7. February 20, 2013


    Virtually all your bunker videos result in questions about hard base bunkers. I know you mention to square the face, lift and hit down, but do you think you could do a video in a bunker with little sand or very hard. Maybe show a clip from a bunker with some sand as you have been and then go to how to change the shot if the bunker is hard base. Seeing is believing. Just a suggestion.


  8. February 21, 2013



    I have tried your tip with consistent success. How would one
    attempt to control distance and elevation? Would this depend
    on the speed of turning the belt buckle?

    Ron H

    • February 22, 2013

      Paul Wilson


      I will be doing a tip on this in the future. Basically, you can do it 4 ways:

      1. Dig your feet in more or less.

      2. Vary the degree the face is open.

      3. Turn your hips faster or slower.

      4. Use a combination of any of the above.

  9. Paul,

    Good tip about hitting it the 3 inches behind the ball. Is the club
    open to the 3 o’clock position?

    Ron. H

    • Ron,

      This depends on the shot you are hitting. More open = higher softer landing shot. Less open = longer more rolling shot.

  10. April 21, 2016


    Hi Paul. Would you agree this the same swing technique used for your basic pitch shot, after you open the face, grip at the end of the club, and get down a couple of inches in the sand. Hinge and turn after the above preparation steps.

    Thanks, Ron

    • April 21, 2016

      Paul Wilson


      I thought I answered this already.

      You can certainly do the pitching technique in the bunker. I like people their normal swing. Digging in. Aim to offset open face and swing through to the follow through. Works perfectly but you can think hinge/turn too.

  11. The More I see this video on exiting bunkers ,the More I find it with plenty of common sensé .
    The most important tip is to move forwards while actively turning your belly button ,not trying to get in the sand so many inches behind the ball,it happens by itself if you dig in slightly your feet in the sand .Maybe it should also be said the tempo of the swing is a leisurely 2/1 ratio ,not too fast ,not too slow ,ARMS relaxed and ” POWERLESS ” .If all is well ,you Will hear a ” thump ” when the clubhead goes through the sand .

    • April 21, 2016

      Paul Wilson


      Common sense is good. Simple is good. I am always trying to think of ways to say the least and get the maximum result.

  12. Avatar photo

    April 22, 2016


    Paul, is this a regular swing like hitting from the fairway or should the swing be steeper where you hinge your wrists sooner.

    • April 22, 2016

      Paul Wilson


      Do your normal golf swing. You learn a different swing and you have to practice twice as hard. You don’t have time for that.

  13. What can a physically compromised person do to swing your way. I am right-handed. My left knee needs replacement. I had foot surgery on my big right toe for arthritis. I can’t seem to get my belt buckle facing the target and be up on that right toe. I used to be a 9 handicap and now am a 24 with all these problems.

    • April 24, 2016

      Paul Wilson


      Well, physical ailments are challenging. You need to know your limitations and do my positions to the best of your ability. Keep in mind I want you doing things like touching the legs so you get pressure between then so you know you are doing it exactly right. If they are not touching you are going to have to check it constantly and go to a position that you can do every time.

      I never have problems with knee replacements. I have one member who is a 6 hdcp with 2 fake knees. He hits it at least 250+ without issue. My student today had 2 fake hips. Not a problem at all. He hit a few 250 but mostly about 220-230 but he wasn’t even trying to go faster.

      Are you just protecting the toe mentally or are you not physically able to do it. This is the exact motion I want you to do:

      It’s Like A Throwing Motion:

      If you cannot physically get there then you are going to have to keep it down a little. Not getting all the way through would create pushes so you would need to turn it over to get it to hook back in the fairway. This would be where my roll over drill should be one of your main drills. Get it hooking then add as much body rotation you can to get the ball starting right (for a righty) so it can hook back.

      So try the throwing motion first and make a decision if you are able to get onto the tip of the toe. Forget about the hip. This does not affect it at all.

      If you can get up on the toe then keep doing it. If not make this decision but then immediately start rolling it and get it hooking. Maybe even do a little stronger grip to help it roll over. Once you get it hooking your focus is on a little more lateral motion in the downswing so the ball pushes. This couple with the release will get you the draw.


      DRILL: 3 Ways To Roll It Over:
      Roll Around The Stick:
      DRILL: Smooth Wrist Release:

      Bump or No Bump?:
      There Is Lateral Motion In The Downswing:
      How To Check Your Lateral Hip Motion:
      What’s Faster … Turning or Shifting Laterally To Start Your Downswing?:

  14. October 16, 2016



    Do you still use your trigger in the sand to initiate your hip turn.


    • Avatar photo

      October 17, 2016

      Paul Wilson


      When you are trying to learn bunker shots I would say yes, use the trigger. Too many people are too stuck in the sand so they leave the ball in the bunker or hit it thin over the green (if they hang back too much).

      Make sure you get to the touch the legs position. This is the key.

  15. February 7, 2019


    I may be your newest member. With your tips,I have made real progress getting my hands and arms out of my swing with irons and woods.

    Bunkers are a mess and real frustration. I have read your bunker tips 1 and this one on thin bunker shots. Today in the practice bunker, I really could not his a good shot. The club head consistently hit the sand at least 8 inches behind the ball and sometimes outside my right foot. I could not stop the problem. If I just put a mark or line in the sand without a ball, this problem did not seem to happen.. But with the ball there, there was almost never an attempt that did not hit sand behind the ball then hit the ball and scull it long. There never was that nice thump. Help. Walter

    • Avatar photo

      February 10, 2019

      Paul Wilson


      Welcome aboard. Good to have you.

      Bunker shots are simple. Right now you are not using your body instead you are hitting with your arms. This hitting is causing you to take too much sand. This is evident in the fact you said you do this when you put the ball down. So ball = hit. So you need to change the thought. in the downswing you need to think of turning all the way through.

      This is the one you should be watching if you are leaving it in the bunker:

      Stop Leaving the Ball In the Bunker:

      You really need to be working on my follow through positions so you know where to swing through to. Once know the where to swing through to you can change the thought of hitting. If you don’t know where to swing to you will keep hitting.

      So open the face. Dig in. Aim left (for a righty). Do you backswing then swing all the way through. If you dig in your club would take sand. Right now it is taking too much because you are stuck on this back foot. So feel the weight come off as you make your way to my follow through. This should not take you more than 5-10 min to fix this.

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