Downhill Sand / Bunker Shots

Hitting sand shots is a scary thing for most golfers. As you'll see in the video, you need to make a few key changes to your setup on the downhill sand shot. Make sure you stay down through the shot and maintain your balance on the slope. It is important to trust that the loft on the club will send the ball up without you having to hit up on the ball.

  • Downhill bunker shots are handled the same as any sand shot, with a couple added features
  • Like any bunker shot, the ball should be a bit up in your stance
  • Match your shoulder angle to the slope of the ground - this goes for either up or downhill
  • Get a nice, wide stance with firm footing, match the slope and swing through

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Lee
Hi, I notice that when playing a bunker shot no matter how much I sit down I keep hitting them thin, sometimes hitting past the green by 50 yards! The feeling I have is just before impact I'm lifting my arms up as if I'm frightened to hit the sand. It tends to happen more when I'm playing in a competition and I'm scared of embarrassing myself. I also feel myself doing this in pitch and chip shots where I'll end up hitting them thin or off the toe. I have been concentrating on the tush line so I don't think that's the problem. Is this common when players get nervous?. Lee.
April 26, 2021
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Lee. Players can tend to flinch, or get nervous in tournaments. They also try to help the ball in the air. Take a look at Moving the Fulcrum Video. The lead shoulder must remain stable to help you work through impact. Also, the bunker shot is just a chuck. You have to let the sand get the ball out. Much better than the 50 yard leading edge blade.
April 27, 2021
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Tony
Like the video.
March 22, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Tony. Much thanks.
March 23, 2020
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James
Hi Craig- sorry for not being more specific. Unfortunately for me it can happen with all lies but especially flat and uphill ones. Thank you! James
October 28, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello James. Sounds like weight may be hanging back and you need to take more sand! Try the box drill in How to a Hit Sand Shot Like a Pro Video.
October 28, 2019
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James
My biggest problem with bunker shots is skulling the ball. What causes this and what can I do to correct it? Thank you! James
October 26, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello James. For all shots, or the particular one talked about above (downhill)?
October 28, 2019
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Arnie
Chuck said to use a 60 for height. Mine as less bounce than my 56; does this make any difference in club selection for a high bunker shot? Also, in what situation would you ever use a 56 for a bunker shot, as opposed to a 60?
July 22, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Arnie. If you need a little more distance the 56 would be easier to allow carry without too many swing adjustments. Better players tend to like a little less bounce and more speed when hitting the 60 out of the bunker. This means you have to be a little more precise because the bounce angle will help less from hitting a chunk. If only a few degrees less you should be fine.
July 22, 2018
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Arnie
There are so many variations on bunker shots based on type of sand (hard-packed to fluffy) and lie (good lie to very plugged, or lump of sand behind the ball), that can make the set up and execution so different from the stock shot, that I recommend more videos on those. For example, a plugged lie in the lip face is, unfortunately, a very common situation.
July 20, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Arnie. Thanks for the suggestion. I will relay to the team.
July 20, 2018
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Lawrence
Craig On green side bunkers I am opening the face but when coming through the ball the club bounces and then I get a thinner strike. The sand is softer on top than the base. Any suggestions Larry Green
July 1, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Larry. Don't completely square the club face, but don't leave it as open. Sounds like the club is bouncing. You need the leading edge to help dig the ball out for you.
July 1, 2018
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Romie
It looked like on the down hill shot in the sand you where standing open. Is this correct on all shots when the cub face is open? Thanks,Sonny
November 9, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Sonny. Take a fairly open stance with the ball on bunker shots. You don't need anything crazy. The majority of the time with the open face shots on short game you will need a slightly open position.
November 9, 2017
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david
So, if I set up with my shoulders parallel to the slope for a downhill bunker shot, do I need to match the slope (with my shoulders) for an uphill bunker shot?
November 9, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. Yes, your shoulder angle should match the slope for an uphill shot.
November 9, 2017
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Wilson
Sorry! My comment was meant to go with the How to Hit a Sand Shot Like a Pro video.
February 8, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Wilson. Take a look below.
February 8, 2016
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Wilson
Hello. How much wrist cock or hinging do you want in the backswing? I have noticed that my wrists tend to cock a fair amount and when I do that I get a lot of good spin and hit a better shot. When I try to prevent this from happening the results aren't so good. Please advise, and thank you!
February 8, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Wilson. (With regard to the Hit a Sand Shot Like a Pro). You don't need to create a max wrist set in the backswing. However, you do want to allow for some cocking. It will help the club get vertical a little quicker and release more of the pop into the sand.
February 8, 2016
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Robert
When Chuck opens the face, is the clubface aiming at his target? And, is his body aiming left of the target?
January 24, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Robert. Club face is at the target. No need to have a wide open body. You can slightly for comfort if you would prefer. But, not necessary.
January 25, 2016
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Joaquin
How do you hit on a bunker without sand? Do we hit the same way except hit weaker?
March 28, 2015
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Patrick (Certified RST Instructor)
Assuming there is grass, no. You do not want to purposely hit behind the ball since there is no sand to propel the ball out. In this case, you are trying to pitch the ball, so there will be club-to-ball contact.
March 29, 2015
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Brandon
What about in waste areas? Do you put more weight on your left side to come steeper into the ball?
January 22, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Brandon. Waste area Fairway or Greenside?
January 25, 2016
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Brandon
Waste area greenside.
January 25, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
If the waste area is like hard pan you don't want to catch a lot of sand. The attack will be pretty standard and more ball-club contact. Too steep may end up bouncing of the ground.
January 25, 2016
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Chad
Should we be using a less lofted club for a green-side downhill lie bunker short than a similarly situated flat bunker shot?
January 4, 2015
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
Chad, No, actually, the opposite. When we strike he ball on a downhill lie, it already de-lofts the club. Not to mention that our spine angle for a downhill lie shot will give us a steeper angle of attack. A lower lofted club combined with these other attributes of the shot is a recipe for blasting it over the green. R.J.
January 4, 2015
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Grant
Somewhere there's a reference to the basic "how to hit a bunker shot". I can't find that video. Help...??? Thanks
December 19, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Grant. The Video is in this section. How to Hit a Sand Shot Like a Pro. http://www.rotaryswing.com/videos/short-game/bunker-shots/how-to-a-hit-sand-shot-like-a-pro
December 19, 2014
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JAMES
I struggle in hard\firm sand.... What do you suggest.? I try chipping it out with varied results.... thanks, James
June 1, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey James. You need to let the club do more of the work for you. If its hard sand allow the face to be slightly open and use your most lofted wedge. You don't want to dig the club into the ground too much with the leading edge. Allow the ground to slow down the swinging motion of the club through impact to have the ball pop out for you. Make sure you keep pulling through, (don't stop) allow the ground to slow the momentum of you pulling through the shot.
June 3, 2014
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JAMES
Thanks Craig. Will the high loft ( bounce ) cause the club head bounce off the sand in ball?
June 3, 2014

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