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Golf Tips to Help You Hit Bunker Shots Like a Pro

Golf tour pros have no fear of hitting greenside bunker shots. Sure some bunker shots are harder than others. But tour pros would rather hit out of a bunker than the gnarly rough that's the alternative surrounding many greens. In fact, many touring pros actually aim for bunkers to avoid ending up in the rough. Many recreational golfers are terrified of hitting out of bunkers, but here are some tips to help you hit better bunker shots and take away away that fear.

First, understand how to hit greenside bunker shots

Believe it or not, greenside bunker shots are rather easy when you understand how to hit them properly. It's the only shot in golf where you don't actually hit the ball at all. The idea is to get the club beneath the ball and carry the ball out of the bunker onto the green on top of a layer of sand. You actually have quite a bit of margin for error since you can take a little more or less sand and still get acceptable results.

Open the face and use the club's bounce

Sand wedges are built with a lower trailing edge, called bounce, that keeps the club from digging into the sand. The more you open the face, the more activated the bounce becomes when you hit the sand. The bounce allows the sand wedge to slide through the sand and under the ball. Most recreational golfers are reluctant to open the face enough. Really open the face to activate the bounce fully.

Set the ball on a tee in the practice bunker

To really get the feel for how to get the clubface under the ball for a successful bunker shot, push a tee into the practice bunker all the way. Place the ball on top of the tee in the bunker. You want to get under the ball far enough to break the tee when you hit your shot. Once you're able to break the tee under the ball, you'll understand how to get the ball to come out onto the green on a layer of sand.

Place a bill under the ball in the practice bunker

Use the smallest denomination monetary note you have in your wallet or a similar size piece of paper. Place the note under the ball in the sand and try to hit the note out of the bunker along with the ball. This will help you get the feel for how far behind the ball the club should enter the sand to carry the ball out of the bunker and onto the green.

Practice one-hand bunker shots

Many recreational golfers don't hit their greenside bunker shots through to a full finish. When that happens, the club doesn't get all the way through the sand, the ball doesn't travel far enough and probably stays in the bunker. Practice hitting bunker shots with your right hand only (for right-handed golfers). Swing hard to a full finish to give you the feel for how hard you need to swing and how far the club needs to travel through to the finish to really hit bunker shots like the pros.