Categorized | Tips & Tricks, 2013, October 2013

Greenside Bunker-The Foundation of Good Golf

By: Adam Taylor

Greenside Bunker-The Foundation of Good Golf

If there is one secret to playing good golf, it’s being able to play the greenside bunker shot well. It’s a great indication of how well your overall swing is in all parts of your game. For most players, the bunker instantly installs fear and negative thoughts on how they are going to get out of it without embarrassing themselves in front of their fellow players.

The following guide will show you how to play the basic greenside bunker shot, with the same techniques and principles that you can apply in everything from chipping to the full swing and in between.

THE SETUP—FRONT (image #1)

The bunker shot setup is not that different in terms of body position to what you would hit for example a pitching wedge about 60 – 70 metres. One mistake I see greatly is players setting up in a chipping position, as this will promote a short chipping swing. The shot has to be played with a longer swing, the reason being we want to hit the sand first before the ball, the complete opposite to hitting from the grass.


The textbook setup from the side has firstly the club twisted in the hands slightly making the clubface appear in an open position. Because of this, the body will have to aim to the left of the target more than normal, so the open clubface will still point at the target. The clubface being open stops the club from digging into the sand too much because of the rounded underneath part of the club, as the goal is to make contact with the sand first. For many players though who top the ball in the bunker, doing this will most likely cause them to continue to do this. The solution is to keep the clubface and body square at address to help the clubface dig into the sand.


This is the beginning of the troubles most players have in the bunker. The reason is that they try to keep the arm and club too straight during the takeaway and the backswing, and most likely the same for their chipping and full swing. This is why improving your bunker shots will improve your shots off the grass also. The key is being able to break your wrists during the takeaway. A good check point is when your glove is level with the outside of your right foot, your club should be level with the ground.

THE ‘L’ POSITION (image #2)

For most bunker shots, the backswing should always at least go up to or even slightly past this position. The check point here is when your left arm is level with the ground, your club should point up vertically forming the shape of the letter ‘L’ from the continued breaking of your wrists. This position is important to be able to generate the speed the swing needs to get the club though the sand, and to hit the sand in the correct position slightly behind the ball.

IMPACT (image #3)

This is where the culmination of a good setup, takeaway and ‘L’ position comes together, making the correct impact in the sand. The key here is whether you are hitting a bunker shot or any shot from the grass, the hands must be slightly in front on your clubface. This makes your impact point a lot more accurate in hitting the sand first before the ball for the bunker shot, or hitting the ball first before the grass on the fairway. Most players will have the clubface in front of the hands, what we call a flipping or scooping position. This makes it very easy to hit the sand to0 far behind the ball, or cause the body to lift up and top the ball.

THE FINISH (image #4)

To make the most of the good positions created so far, the finish position is just as important. For many players, their follow through is very short, causing in most cases the club to get buried in the sand and the ball struggling to have enough speed to make it out of the bunker. A check point in the follow through is to mirror a little of the backswing, forming almost a reverse letter ‘L’ position. Finishing here will have given the club the club the speed the get through the sand, as the club will not actually touch the ball through impact, making the ball exit the bunker with a softer ball flight and with some spin to make the ball stop quicker on the green.


Following these simple steps will have you improving your shots from the greenside bunker, and also improving your contact from the grass.

About Adam Taylor

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Adam graduated from the Australian PGA as a full member professional with a Diploma in Golf Instruction in 2005. Having been based at Royale Jakarta Golf Club for the past two years, Adam has devoted his passion and knowledge of the game to improving players of all levels and ages. His instructional techniques have featured in several television golf programs and golf magazines. He looks forward to improving your game through Golf Indonesia Magazine and at Ancora Golf Institute, Royale Jakarta.

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