Long Bunker / Sand Shots

The long bunker shot in the 25-30 yard range is considered to be one of the toughest shots in the game of golf. In truth, it's not that difficult of a shot, it just requires the golfer to make a confident, aggressive swing. If you follow the fundamentals from "Short Game Made Simple", you will see that there are only a couple things to consider when playing a long bunker shot.

  • Many golfers fear the longer bunker shots, but there are two ways to approach them
  • You can use your usual club and make a bigger swing, or take your usual swing and use a club with less loft
  • Taking a bigger swing with the same club gives you a margin of error, but requires a little more swing control
  • If you use a club with less loft, you take your usual sand shot - a little less aggressive, less acceleration
  • Learn and practice both methods so you can choose the approach that feels right on any given day

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Greg
Wondering what changes for WET sand ... after a rainfall or irrigation water ... ?
June 27, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Greg. When the sand is wet you want to shy away from the face bouncing too much off the ground. Be careful to not setup with the face too open. I like using a little less lofted club so you don't have to be as aggressive and if the leading edge digs a little it will still help launch out of the sand.
June 27, 2020
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Johnny
Is there a video for fairway bunkers?
October 3, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Johnny. I don't believe so. Thanks for the suggestion .
October 3, 2019
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gordon
Hi Craig, I think there is still not a video for FW bunker shots. Is one planned and if not could you give a couple of bullet point hints here? Thanks and regards, Gordon
June 15, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gordon. You are basically playing the same shot except for the club will need to be squarer at address and you would focus on taking very little sand with shallow strike. You are trying to keep the club from digging too much with the leading edge. Slight choke and maybe plus 1 club so you don't attack the ball too much and stay stable.
June 15, 2020
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gordon
Thanks Craig, staying stable on a golf course is a big ask! Gordon.
June 15, 2020
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Jarek
Love the material so far... Just one question. What would your advice be for really short sand shots that have pretty compact sand. When the water settles and hardens the sand, it makes for one of my most inconsistent problem shots on the course. What would you do different?
July 23, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jarek. I wouldn't open up the club face as much to allow the leading edge to help you dig the ball out. Don't get scared and quit the swing pace into the sand. Opening the face too much in wet/compact can lead to a bounce off the ground and bladed strike.
July 23, 2018
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Jarek
Ok great, would you recommend setting up the same? Open stance, ball forward and so forth?
July 24, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jarek. Setup should be fine. Just need a little more help from the club.
July 24, 2018
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gary
Just saw the top 50 golf instructors in Golf Digest and Chuck was not one of them. Whomever made that list should have their head examined. Easily he should be in the top 5 Keep up the great teaching Chuck!
November 9, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gary. Very much appreciate the post. As you well know most things are about politics and money.
November 9, 2017
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Carver
When reducing loft for a longer bunker shot, or taking a club with less loft, do you still want to strike the sand with the back of the club as in a regular bunker Shot?
November 6, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Carver. If using a club with less loft you will make the normal sand shot feeling. If using the same club with reduced loft you don't want to exaggerate hitting the back of the club face with the sand.
November 7, 2017
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Martyn
Great video. My question is a tangential one ... bounce is something I struggle to understand. Just wondering why Chuck has turned his 54 into a 55 tot are off a bit of bounce. What is the advantage of more bounce/less bounce, and in what situations? Thanks.
November 5, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Martyn. Bounce will help players that typically dig at the ball, or swing too steep. It can help in certain situations to keep from hitting a chunk shot. Better players tend to use less bounce because they already have a good shallow angle of attack and don't require the help. Being on very tight lies and trying to put spin on it without the club bouncing off the ground into the ball.
November 7, 2017
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Mark
How do I play a fairway bunker shot? Assuming there is a low enough lip on the bunker to hit a mid iron, would I set up any differently from if I was in the fairway? Thanks.
October 23, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Mark. You are basically playing the same shot except for the club will need to be squarer at address and you would focus on taking very little sand with shallow strike. You are trying to keep the club from digging too much.
October 23, 2017
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James
How might this change for 60-80 yard bunker shot?
June 25, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello James. When you are getting into that range of distance. It is all about practice. But, you a trying to achieve the same thing. Get the ball out. Most players will take a club with a little less loft. Make a more controlled length swing with barely brushing the ground. Nice and stable base. Some players that really struggle with this type length (if not a high lip). Will use their 9 to 3 swing with a less lofted club barely scraping the sand.
June 25, 2017
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KARUMBAIAH
Some of the critical videos do not load and play in all sections. Something needs be done on this as mails send do not get any response.
November 28, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Karumbaiah. The video is working correctly on our end. Make sure you are using Chrome or Firefox. If the problem persists. Please use the Contact Us Link at the bottom of the page. I will send them a message as well for you.
November 28, 2015
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Terry
Hi, I've tried this with my Lob wedge and I was only able to advance the ball about 10'. Problem is I needed to go about 40'. What is the approach with a 20 yd bunker shot? How far behind the ball do we hit the sand to drive the ball that far? Is the swing plane steeper or the same as a normal RST swing? thx
February 26, 2015
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
Terry, if we get our plane too steep, then it will be very difficult to use the bounce of the club head and the tendency will be to dig into the sand. We'll want to use similar mechanics to our normal swing with the ball moved forward in the stance so that we catch the sand first. R.J.
March 18, 2015
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Mads
How about fairways bunker shot - when you, say, have 170 yards to the green? My normal procedure is to : 1: take a club one number lower than I normally would for that distance - i.e. 5-iron instead of a 6-iron 2: have the ball a bit further back in the stance (about an inch), to be more sure of hitting down on it 3: aiming to hit it a little thin. If I hit it thin, I still get an ok distance, or the ball will roll up the clubface for an ok shot. The opposite being hitting it fat and getting no where.
February 4, 2015
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Aaron (Certified RST Instructor)
I think the way you are describing it is just about perfect. I choke up a little bit since I am digging down into the sand. Just another measure to ensure i hit the ball first. Practicing out of a bunker with long shots is a great way to really focus on your ball striking.
March 13, 2015
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Brandon
Do you also use this same technique when you're close to the face of the bunker?
September 9, 2016
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Chad
Where is the "Short Game DVD" that is frequently being referred to in these short game videos? Thanks.
January 4, 2015
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Scott
Should you take your normal swing or try to leave the lower body out of the swing?
September 27, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Scott. Try to keep the lower body stable and controlled.
September 27, 2014

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