How Much Sand Should You Take For Perfect Bunker Shots?

In this video, PGA pro Dan Grieve offers some simple tips that will help you learn how to hit different shots out the bunker

PGA pro Dan Grieve hitting a bunker shot at Infinitum Golf Resort in Spain
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

One of the keys to being a good bunker player is to understand how the entry point affects how the ball will react. In the video and article below, Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Dan Grieve sheds some light on this topic and shares some simple bunker shot tips that will help you become a master of the sand.

A lot of golfers struggle with how to play bunker shots but it's not as difficult as you might think. You can, for example, change the distance you hit it and how much spin you generate just by where you enter the sand and how you release the club.

I've set up a nice example where I have around 15 yards of green to work with but there is a flat shelf and then a sharp downslope to the pin. In this scenario, you can take less loft and let it release down to the hole or you can fly the ball further with more spin. Here's how to play both shots.

More run, less spin

I'm using my 56-degree wedge for the first one which is going to run more and here are the changes to make for this shot. First, move your ball position a little further back so it is between the middle of your stance and your front foot. As for the swing itself, you want it to be wider in the follow-through so there's less breakdown of the wrists.

PGA pro Dan Grieve setting up to hit a bunker shot at Infinitum Golf Resort

This simple drill will help you work on honing a more consistent entry point

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

In terms of how much sand to take, a great drill is to draw three lines in the bunker about an inch apart. Set up with your ball on the line nearest the target and aim to enter the sand on the line that is furthest away as I demonstrate in the video. This will take the spin off the ball and ensure it has the run required to get all the way to the flag.

PGA pro Dan Grieve hitting a bunker shot at Infinitum Golf Resort in Spain

To hit the bunker shot with less spin, keep more width in the follow-through

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

This is a great shot to add to your repertoire as it's quite a safe shot and can be relied on if you're facing a nervy bunker shot.

Less run, more spin

To spin it more, I'd recommend increasing the loft to 60 degrees or even higher because this will allow you to create more speed and therefore more spin. Gary Player calls it striking the match so I want you to really zip under the ball through impact and release the clubhead. 

PGA pro Dan Grieve hitting a bunker shot at Infinitum Golf Resort in Spain

Less sand and more release of the clubhead will allow you to generate more spin

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Keep the ball position on the same line but try and enter the sand on the middle line this time. If you execute, you should notice the ball comes out  higher and lands a lot softer with more spin. 

This is a great way of learning how to play two different but highly effective bunker shots just by changing your entry point and the amount of sand you take. 

Dan Grieve
Top 50 Coach

Location: Woburn GC  

Dan is one of the leading coaches in the UK, a Fellow of the PGA and a short-game virtuoso. He has had considerable success with a collection of tour pros, helping them to Order of Merit titles and major victories, and his Short Game School is the most attended in the UK. His students, past and present, include Charley Hull, Georgia Hall, Inci Mehmet and Iona Stephen.

Most common problem:

Swing – over the top , help by getting the basics correct at address and making them aware how to get the club online coming down.

Short game – creating spin and feel around the greens, help by educating on what the short game actually is (weak on purpose) and understand bounce and how they can apply it to different lies/situations.

Greatest success story:

Helping Georgia Hall from World No. 450 to No. 6 and winning a Major, two Order of Merits and Solheim Cup appearances.

Greatest teacher:

Alex Hay was a great influence during my first few years at Woburn. In sport more generally Sir Clive Woodward has taught me how to deliver at the highest level.

Most common fault:

Flipped right hand (hands behind the ball). Understand a correct coil/load going back and how to sequence better coming down so the chest opens up and gives the arms space to deliver a stronger impact. Lots of body action drills to enhance the feel, with and without the ball.