How to Hit Out of The Sand: 7 Steps to Escaping The 1st Time Around

man hitting out of greenside bunker

Hitting out of a greenside bunker can be one of the most intimidating and frustrating experiences on the golf course, especially for a beginner. With a few tips, and a lot of practice, this seemingly difficult shot can get a whole lot easier.

Think of this article as kind of like the “How to hit out of the sand 101” as you will learn a lot of the basic rules and techniques as well as some practice tips for the next time you are out on the course.

What You Will Need

The most important thing you will need to learn how to hit out of a greenside bunker is the right club(s). We suggest using either a sand wedge or a lob wedge, really just a club with a lot of loft, when trying to land the ball close to hole. 

The second thing you will need, and this is a little more difficult than finding a SW, is a greenside bunker for practice. You can read all the tips in the world, but until you put them into action, it is impossible to know how well you are doing or how much the tips are helping.

One of the best ways to practice is to either find a course with a practice bunker, or go to a course that is either not crowded or at an off time so that you can hit a few balls out of different bunkers on multiple holes.

Step By Step Instructions

Now that you have your bunker and your clubs, it is time to start thinking about your setup, your swing, and the theory of getting the ball out of the sand and close to the hole.

1. What Type of Sand?

The type of sand you are hitting out of is one of the most important things to consider because the type and consistency of the sand will greatly change your approach to the shot, your setup, and even your swing. To decide what type of sand you are hitting out of, you do not need to be an arenologist (a scientist who studies sand). It is important to know if the sand is fluffy or hard and if it is a thin layer of sand with dirt underneath or if the sand has some depth. Knowing what type of sand you are in will go a long way in determining how open your stance is, how far in front of the ball you need to hit, and hard you need to swing.

2. Find a Landing Spot

Every golf shot you will ever hit will be better if you visualize the shot beforehand. Decide where you want your ball to land and then try to understand what the ball would do if it did land where you aimed. The shorter the shot, the more important it is to choose a spot for the ball to land. Too often, a player stands in a greenside bunker simply hoping to hit the ball on the green and get to the putter as quickly as possible. If you want your shot to be successful, choose a spot on the green where you want your ball to land based on the distance to the hole, the height of the shot, and the amount of roll you expect to have. 

3. Setup

  • Stance

The key thing to remember about hitting out of a greenside bunker is to open up your stance. You want to add even more loft to your club so that you can get the clubface underneath the ball through impact and opening your stance can do just that. To get the ball higher into the air, many golfers lean back in their stance. When you are hitting from an open stance, however, you want about 60% of your weight on your front foot and you want your shoulders level.

  • Ball Position

With your stance open, you want the ball to be very forward in your stance. Put the ball about even with your front foot or even a little ahead if you feel comfortable making that swing.

  • Sand First

One of the most common questions people ask when hitting out of a greenside bunker is whether your club should hit the ball or the sand first. If you are hitting from a fairway bunker, you want to hit the ball first just like you would from the fairway, but close to the green you want to hit sand first. In fact, you want to hit only sand. Hit about 2 to 3 inches behind the ball and take a divot about the size of a dollar. You are not digging deep into the sand, you are driving the clubhead forward and right under the ball.

4. Open or Square Club Face?

As a general rule, when you are hitting out of a greenside bunker you open your clubface. The degree to which you open it, or if you open it all, depends on the type of sand. The fluffier the sand, the more open your clubface should be and the firmer the sand, the more square the club face should be. A key to opening your clubface is to open the face first and then grip the club, you should not grip the club first and then open the face.

5. Swing Length

When you are hitting out of a bunker, you want your swing to be a little steeper than normal, and it is a much easier swing if it is not full. The key is to take a few practice swings to get a feel for how long your backswing should be for the ball to reach the landing spot. As a general rule, you want your backswing to be about 75% of normal.

6. Commit to Your Swing

With anything else in golf, confidence is key. The more you practice and the better you feel standing over the ball, the more you will commit to the process. When players are not confident, they tend to decelerate through the swing and second guess themselves through the process. Our hope is that this tutorial will give you the confidence to trust your swing and the process.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice

The easiest way to get out of a greenside bunker is to practice, find another bunker to practice some more, and then go out the next day and practice again. It takes time to learn how to hit out of the sand, but it can be done. The more time you spend doing it, the better you will perform, it is just a matter of practicing the correct techniques.

Extras on How To Hit Out of The Sand

While much of our “extras” are discussed above, but these are some of the most oft-asked questions and some of the most important things to remember.

  • Sand Before Ball

When you are hitting out of a greenside bunker, you always hit the sand first, and most of the time you only hit the sand. If you hit the ball first you are either going to bury it in the sand or you are going to hit it over the green.

  • How Much Sand?

You do not want to throw too much or too little sand when hitting out of the bunker. You want the amount of sand to be about the size of a dollar bill. This happens when you hit about 3 inches behind the ball and then force the club head through the sand and under the ball.

  • What is Bounce?

The wedge bounce is the angle created between the leading edge and the trailing edge of the club. This is the area of the club that hits through the ground as the clubface makes contact with the ball. The higher the bounce, the higher the leading edge is off the ground at address. Bounce is a golfer’s friend because it creates forgiveness on all wedge shots and helps you to strike the ball well even if you make a mistake.

Final Thoughts on How To Hit Out of The Sand

We hope that you enjoyed your “How to Hit Out of a Sand Trap 101” tutorial. Our goal is to give you the tips and advice and you need to get up and down from a greenside bunker, and to take the intimidation out of what can be a difficult shot.

Everyone hates those embarrassing moments when you spend too much time and too many strokes trying to get the ball on the green, and this tutorial will help you get the ball close out of the sand. If you enjoyed and learned from this tutorial, let us know in the comments and share this link with your friends.


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