Bunker Tips: The Sand Shot Made Easier for the Low Handicap Golfer

March 6, 2016
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So, you’re a low handicapper. You play well, but want to shave those last few strokes off your handicap. Here’s how to do it from the sand.

The best players in the world get the ball up and down from the sand about half the time. How? They’re able to control the way the ball reacts once it hits the green. They can add spin when they need the ball to check up close to the hole, or take off spin when the play is to run the ball up to the flag.

Here’s how to hit both shots consistently to within one-putt range just by changing the way the clubhead leaves the sand. Getting the ball out of the sand is job one, but knowing how to make the ball either “bite” or roll out will leave you close to the hole.


For most sand shots, adding spin will help you knock it closer. To pull this off, you want the clubhead to swing up vertically immediately after contacting the sand. As the clubhead touches down, you should feel as though it’s passing your hands, with the shaft virtually straight up and down. Then, as you bend your left elbow just after impact, the clubhead should quickly move toward the sky, creating a narrow angle between your hands and your left shoulder.

The more vertical you make your release, the more loft—and stopping power— you’ll produce. A narrow angle between your hands and left shoulder at the end of the swing means you’ve made a steep follow-through, which creates a high-spinning shot that grabs the green.


When the pin is back and you’ve got ample green to work with, the smart play is to run the ball up to the hole, as you would with a chip shot. Spin is your enemy here. To reduce it, make your normal backswing but allow your right arm to stretch across your torso, which will push your hands away from your left arm and into a slightly higher position.

You’ll notice that the angle between your hands and your left shoulder is much wider than the angle formed at the end of the high-spin shot. This move ensures that the clubhead exits the sand on a shallower angle, reducing the spin and increasing the roll. A wider angle between your hands and left shoulder at the end of your swing means you’ve swung on a shallower path, an easy way to reduce spin and let the ball roll out to back-cut pins.