Basic Bunker Technique Explained

A consistent setup is key to the routine shot, with variations required for a plugged lie

bunker technique

A consistent setup is key to the routine shot, with variations required for a plugged lie

Basic Bunker Technique Explained

Do you struggle out of bunkers?

Struggle no more with these simple yet effective tips from our Top 25 Coach Clive Tucker.

Basic Bunker Technique Explained:

1 Routine splash shots

The clubface may appear open, but look at the tee

For these shots, aim straight and not to the left as many golfers do, thinking that by doing this they’re opening the face.

The reality is that if your hands are low, you can actually be closing the face when you think you’re opening it.

Most people would think the face is way open here, but as you can see, the tee peg is actually pointing left of target.

Ball position should then be just on your left heel, with a lot of weight on the front foot – perhaps 75% – as that then locks you in position.

You want to get the low point of the club under the ball, and you do that by getting your balance over where the ball is.

WATCH: Clive Tucker's Links Masterclass - Putting

2 Consistency is key

Vary distance by changing you club, not your swing

Swing back until the shaft of the club is vertical and then through until it’s vertical for all routine bunker shots.

The way to vary distance is by changing clubs rather than your swing.

Although the body is moving, this action can feel ‘handsy’ – the focus should be on releasing under the ball.

If you always aim straight, always keep the same balance on your front foot, always have the same ball position and keep the swing length consistent, it’s going to be much easier to repeat that.

3 Short, plugged bunker shots

Power comes from the wrist here

For these, aim a bit left and have a very short follow-through with the club almost stopping underneath the ball.

Get your hands slightly forward and low – just above knee height, whereas a normal bunker shot would be somewhere between mid-thigh and lower thigh.

Getting your hands low helps you to cock the wrists earlier and set them faster. The power comes from the wrists rather than the torso as you’re not trying to hit it a long way.

You need plenty of loft and an aggressive, steep angle of attack that gets under the ball.

By stopping under the ball, you are then keeping the clubface consistent throughout.

This type of shot won’t have any backspin, but it won’t have masses of overspin either.

WATCH: Clive Tucker's Links Masterclass - Pitching

4  The chunk and run

You may have heard commentators refer to this shot, which is ideal for the longer plugged bunker shot or bad lie.

Here, you should close the face, aim right and look to hit it a little heavy and quite hard.

The chunk and run generates overspin, comes out low and chases up the green.

It’s almost like a mini hook shot.

Checklist

  • Aim straight rather than to the left for a normal splash shot
  • Keep around 75% of your weight on your front foot throughout
  • For plugged lies, aim left and have very little follow-through

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Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-6. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x