golf bunker

How to Hit Out of the Bunker in Golf?

The golf bunker shot is one of the most difficult shots in golf. Hitting out of the bunker can either be a 1-attempt success or turn into spending multiple shots to get the ball out.

In this guide, I will help you learn how to hit out of the bunker so you can escape the sand consistently and have confidence rather than fear when you see your golf ball end up inside a sand bunker.

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How to Get Out of the Sand Bunker

Step 1: Club Selection

As you drive up to the golf bunker in your golf cart, think about club selection. What golf club will be the best to use to hit out of the bunker?


In most cases, you’ll want to use a higher lofted golf club such as a sand wedge which is marked with the letter “S” on it. You can also use high lofted wedges like your 56 degree wedge, 58 degree, 60 degree, etc.


Bounce is also important to consider. Pick the right club with the correct bounce for the bunker shot you face. For most sand bunker shots, you’ll want to use a club with low bounce.

  • If the sand is coarse and “fluffy”, then go with a low bounce wedge (4-8 degrees of bounce).
  • If the sand is more firm and compacted, like wet sand, then you can get away with a higher bounce wedge (9-12 degrees).

Step 2: Evaluate Your Lie in the Sand

How the golf ball is sitting in the bunker will impact your shot and the swing that is required to hit out of the bunker successfully.

Analyze the lie to see if you have a flat lie, an uphill lie, a downhill lie, or even a plugged lie. Also analyze the sand to determine if it is light and fluffy or more packed and dense.

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Flat Lie

A flat lie is when the golf ball has found a flat area in the golf bunker and is sitting up nicely on top of the sand. This will give you the best chance to pick it clean as you hit your ball out of the bunker.

Uphill Lie

The uphill lie is the next best possible lie to find your ball in a sand bunker. This means the golf ball is sitting on an uphill slope, which will help the ball pop up into the air higher. It will have more backspin as a result and stop quicker on the green.

Check out this insanely high golf shot that resulted from Jordan Spieth hitting his shot from an uphill lie. Anticipate an uphill lie adding vertical height to your golf shot.


Downhill Lie

If you find your golf ball on a downslope in the bunker, adjust your shoulders to match the slope so you’re hitting with the slope and not against it. The ball will come out with more roll and less height so anticipate a low bunker shot from a downhill slope.

Be careful about hitting too far behind the ball as the downhill slope will cause a chunked golf shot. Aim to pick the ball clean to get it out of the bunker on the first try.

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Plugged Lie

A plugged lie (or “Fried Egg”) is when the golf ball gets buried in the sand so only the top portion of the ball is surfacing. When the golf ball is buried deeper in the sand, you’ll want a more shut clubface and a steeper downswing to “chop” the ball out of the plugged lie.

golf bunker plugged lie

Step 3: Set Your Club Face (But Don’t Touch The Sand)

Once you’ve picked the club you’re going to use and evaluated the lie, it’s time to setup to the bunker shot. Set the club face either open or more closed depending on what you determined when evaluating the sand.

Be careful not to actually set the club down so that it touches the sand as this will incur a two-stroke penalty during your pre-shot setup.

Step 4: Adjust Your Stance

Once your club face is set to the golf ball how you want, then adjust your stance and feet position to work around the clubface.

If your clubface is more open, creating more loft for the club, then you should adjust your feet more left of the target you’re aiming at. This creates a more open golf stance to give your arms room to cut across the ball from outside to inside swing path with the open face, generating a higher flighted, high backspin bunker shot.

Adjust your stance so the ball position is more forward in your stance.

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Step 5: Steepen Your Golf Swing for Bunker Shots

To hit out of the bunker successfully, you’ll want to steepen your golf swing. This requires you to hinge your wrists more aggressively and attack the golf ball with a steeper angle of attack on the downswing.

Focus your eyes on a spot in the sand about 1-inch behind the golf ball. This is the point you want to focus on making contact with the sand and your club face on the downswing.

As you hit that spot in the sand, let your club glide under the ball and through the sand.

Read Next: How Much Do Golf Lessons Cost?

Step 6: Swing Speed is Important

Maintain good speed on the downswing. Don’t decelerate into impact. Practicing making golf swings keeping consistent tempo and rhythm.

Many beginners and high handicap players will “freeze up” during the bunker shot as they get nervous about their speed to hit the bunker shot with.

It’s okay to hit the ball with a lot of swing speed. This will actually help you achieve a more successful bunker shot that gets out of the bunker since you’re going to be taking sand which slows the club down at impact.

Lack of swing speed is actually what hurts you in the golf bunker. Your club needs to fight through the sand and if you don’t swing with enough speed, the ball won’t make it out of the bunker.

Step 7: The Follow Through

It’s super important that you continue the golf swing into the follow through. Don’t decelerate or stop the golf swing at impact with the sand. This will lead to chunked golf shots.

Continue the swing by finish with a strong follow through! Stay down on the shot longer than for a normal golf shot.

Step 8: Account for Roll

Once you get comfortable hitting out of the bunker and can do so consistently, then the next step is to start learning how the ball reacts once it lands on the green.

Learn how much spin different bunker shots tend to have and how they roll once they land on the green. Then practice adjusting how far you fly the ball onto the green to account for where the ball needs to land based on the expected roll.

This is the phase of bunker practice where you start getting your bunker shots close to the hole to save par. You’ve graduated from amateur bunker player to professional.

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