Titleist Tips: How to Hit a Bunker Shot - 3 Tips to Control Distance

When we first start playing golf, bunker play can be a big challenge. Opening the club face feels foreign and the idea of intentionally hitting behind the ball is strange. In the early going, it's an accomplishment to just get the ball out of the sand.

But as our games improve, we raise our expectations. Now we want to get out of the bunker AND leave ourselves a reasonable chance of making a one-putt. Learning how to properly hit a bunker shot and taking our bunker game to this new level requires an ability to control the distances of our bunker shots — no easy task.

Do we swing harder? Take more club? Hit closer to the ball? Ask ten golfers and you might get ten different answers, but for a proven recipe for success, we reached out to Titleist Staff Member James Sieckmann, and he shares his three tried-and-true methods in this latest Titleist Golf Tip.

Controlling your Bunker Shot Distance

Tip #1: Club Selection
In the grass, you typically want to control your distance with the length of your backswing. If you wanted to make a shorter shot, you would need to have a shorter swing. You cannot do this while hitting a bunker shot. When playing a bunker shot, you need wrist angle and wrist set so that you can unload that angle at the bottom in order to get the ball up and out of the bunker with spin. Standard lob wedge flies 10 yards in the air, a sand wedge might fly 18 yards while a gap wedge might fly 30 yards. It’s important to have the right size club when tailoring your bunker shot.

Tip #2: Amount of Face Rotation
Fully rotated open to half open. Face direction of the club can be essential on your ball distance. By turning the face of your club, it can help the ball go even further.

Tip #3: Speed
If you have to hit a short shot, let’s say just over the lip of the bunker, because you will have less speed with a full release, all you want is a shorter follow through. Create a stable platform with your legs planted and the top of your follow through should be very short, as you will want plenty of hinge with less speed. If you want to hit it further, the best way is to increase the length of the follow through. Try to have the head of the club above your head at the end of your finish. Therefore, a shorter follow through equals a shorter shot, while a longer follow through means a farther shot.  

For more great instruction from James, be sure to visit his online Modern Short Game Academy.