8 Tour Pro Bunker Play Tips

Some of the world's best offer their tips to help you make more sand saves...

Luke Donald and Eddie Pepperell hitting bunker shots
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best players in the world are prodigious from tee to green. However, even when their long game isn't firing on all cylinders, they are deadly around the green. And as well as a host of tour pro chipping tips, we recently spoke to a number of top pros to get their best bunker play tips.

Branden Grace

Branden Grace hitting a bunker shot

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Picture the shot you want to play. Pick a spot a couple of inches behind the ball, then forget about the ball and just concentrate on hitting that spot and accelerating through it. Often people do pick the spot, but they then decelerate into the ball to make sure that they hit that spot. Remember to accelerate!

Luke Donald

Luke Donald hitting a bunker shot

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You need to use the bounce correctly – you mustn’t get the leading edge entering the sand with lots of shaft lean. Another good visual is for your divot to run as far behind the ball as it does in front.

Thomas Pieters

Thomas Pieters hitting a bunker shot

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In practise, I draw a box around the ball, about four inches before it and four inches after it, and just try to hit that box, instead of trying to focus on just behind the ball, or two inches behind it. I then imagine that box out on the course. Make sure you hit sand first and make it roll like a putt.

Eddie Pepperell

Eddie Pepperell hitting a bunker shot

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Sixty degrees of loft is more than enough to get the ball out. You’ve just got to understand how to return the club to the ball correctly. I’d stand a bit wider and have my hands slightly behind the ball at address so I’m using the bounce. You don’t want the leading edge driving into the sand. And keep the speed up.

Related: Eddie Pepperell's 10 best golf tips

Andy Sullivan

Andy Sullivan hitting a bunker shot

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When I'm practising, I'll draw a line in the sand with my club and try to hit that line, so my entry point is consistent. That guarantees the strike. The key part to being a good bunker player is to take a similar amount of sand every time, and this line exercise will help you to consistently find that ideal strike point.

Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell hitting a bunker shot

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The set-up is key to your ability to be able to play the bunker shot well. You create added loft on the club by leaning the shaft back at address, rather than pointing the face to the right of your target. 

Once you have leaned the shaft back, creating extra loft, you can then position your body, setting up with the butt of the club pointing directly at your belt. A great drill is to put sand on the face of your wedge at address. Look to keep that sand on the face as long as possible as you take the club back, getting the feeling that you are throwing the sand over your right shoulder.

Soren Kjedlsen

Soren Kjeldsen hitting a bunker shot

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With all the great bunker players, you don’t even need to see where the shot has finished because you know from the sound. Make that nice thud using the bounce – this increases the margin for error. To use the bounce, open the face and feel like the clubhead passes your hands a little earlier through the shot.

Henrik Stenson

Henrik Stenson hitting a bunker shot

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Always take sand. Rather take more sand than not enough, hitting thin bunkers shots is not any good. But at the same time you need a good technique so you don’t leave it in the bunker. A lot of amateurs leave it in the trap and start getting closer and closer to the ball and then it’s a dangerous game.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. 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: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV