Tips for Better Bunker Play

Mark Oswald
General Manager
The Highlands at Dove Mountain in Marana, AZ.
Marana, AZ

More Information

Your goal is to loft the ball high into the air clearing the lip of the bunker and landing softly on the green. This sounds great, now let’s see how it can be done.

Start with a club with a lot of loft. Use a 56, 58 or 60 degree wedge. This is going to be a sand explosion shot! You want to take a big divot of sand and the ball together and throw them both out of the bunker and onto the green. If the sand comes out so does the ball. If the sand lands back in the bunker you will be trying this shot again with the ball back in the bunker.

Ball position is very important in determining how much sand to hit before impacting the ball. You will be using the sand as resistance against the club determining distance. The more sand you hit, the more resistance you will have against the club and the shorter distance the ball will travel. Think about the sand like your brake pedal. The more pressure you put on the brake pedal the slower the car goes. When you apply pressure to the club by hitting more sand you slow the club down and the ball goes a shorter distance. 

For a close up shot, position the ball more forward towards the front toe and hit the sand further behind the ball, about at the heel. The more sand you hit before impacting the ball the shorter the ball will travel. For a medium shot position the ball closer to your heel and hit closer to the ball, less sand to pick more distance. For a long shot position the ball on you front heel and hit the sand directly under the ball. The more forward of your heel you position the ball, the more sand you will hit before the ball and the shorter the ball will travel.

Acceleration is another key to successful bunker play. You must accelerate into the sand and finish with a full follow through. Make a full swing. Remember you must accelerate through to the finish to throw the sand and the ball out onto the green.

Mark Oswald is the General Manager of Oro Valley Country Club in Oro Valley, Arizona. For more information, contact Mark Oswald at or