How to set up for a bunker shot

Gary Alliss talks through bunker shot basics and the fundamental techniques required to escape the sand every time.

how to set up for a bunker shot
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Golf Monthly Top 25 coach Gary Alliss talks through how to set up for a bunker shot and the fundamental techniques required to escape the sand every time.

How to set up for a bunker shot

My aim here is to explain the technique as simply as I can to help you escape sand more consistently.

Firstly, understand that a bunker shot is the only one in the game where you are not trying to strike the ball – instead, you are aiming to hit the sand an inch or so before the ball.

To get it out, you need to use the bounce of the club correctly (this is the part of the sole that sits below the leading edge and causes the club to ‘bounce’ through the sand without digging too far in).

So set the ball forward in your stance at address and open the face of the club a fraction before you take your grip (this will also increase the bounce angle).

To make sure the ball comes out on line and not right of target you’ll need to aim your feet, hips and shoulders a little left of the flag.

From there, just aim to make a full, flowing swing and you should see how softly the ball emerges from the trap.

To get a feel for this in practice, make a few swings without a ball, simply aiming to splash some sand onto the green.

This should help you get a feel for what to do, how hard to swing and how much sand to take.

Read more top short game tips

Try this!

Shuffle your feet into the sand. This improves your stability, lowers your centre of gravity and importantly, will give you an idea for how soft the sand is.


It's always courteous to tap the sand off your soles before walking on the green after playing out of a bunker. This prevents others having to brush away any sand you might have brought onto the green with you.


Thomas Patrick Clarke
Sports Digital Editor

Tom Clarke joined Golf Monthly as a sub editor in 2009 being promoted to content editor in 2012 and then senior content editor in 2014, before becoming Sports Digital Editor for the Sport Vertical within Future in 2022. Tom currently looks after all the digital products that Golf Monthly produce including Strategy and Content Planning for the website and social media - Tom also assists the Cycling, Football, Rugby and Marine titles at Future. Tom plays off 16 and lists Augusta National (name drop), Old Head and Le Touessrok as the favourite courses he has played. Tom is an avid viewer of all golf content with a particularly in depth knowledge of the pro tour.