How To Hit Out Of A Sand Trap: Bunkers Made Easy

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How to hit out of a sand trap?

Sand bunker often represents the biggest challenge on a golf course. More than being a physical enemy, it cripples you mentally. So learning to hit out of sand traps is the first step in conquering them.

The enviable shots of Phil Mickelson from sand bunkers that lob the ball onto greens with grace are every golfer’s dream. And we are here to help you achieve it.

How to Hit Out of a Sand Trap?

Here, we have explained different scenarios of bunker shots based on the lie of the golf ball. Your stance, your weight distribution, the bottom of your swing arc, all matter in wading through the challenge of sand bunkers.

Most golfers repeatedly fail because they try to scoop the ball out of the sand instead of using the loft of their club to launch it.

The most important point to remember while hitting out of a sand trap is that you are not hitting the ball, you are taking a divot. You must focus on getting the ball out and not on lobbying it straight into the hole. Ambition is good, but over-ambition can be sabotaging.

Step 1: Club decision to hit out of Sand Trap

You have a choice between the sand wedge and lob wedge and that too clubs of various bounce angles.

Here are the types of clubs available to choose from:

You have a choice between the sand wedge and lob wedge and that too clubs of various bounce angles.

Low-Bounce Sand Wedge:

Low-Bounce Sand Wedge

Low bounce is preferred by golfers who have a shallow shot. They utilize the loft of the wedge to get the ball off. This bounce requires you to open the face of the club and hit so that the ball lands softly. Low bounce makes it easier to get the leading edge of the wedge under the ball.

Golfers who square their shoulders and attack the ball at a sharp angle should play with sand wedges of low bounce. There are very few people who play like that and they should use around 8° lofts.

Moderate Bounce Sand Wedge:

Moderate Bounce Sand Wedge

10-16° bounce is most popularly used amongst golfers. It fits the gameplay of many golfers. Golfers who have the average angle of attack can use these standard bounce wedges. They can play with a slightly open or square clubface.

High Bounce Sand Wedge:

High Bounce Sand Wedge

High-bounce sand wedges have bounced between 16-18°. The wide sole of this club easily slices through the sand and gets the ball out. If you like to hit with a square face, high-bounce clubs will automatically give the ball a high flight.

But high bounce means the leading edge is high and may not get under the ball easily. So you really need to dig under the ball to get it out. It’s preferred by golfers who have a steep angle of attack with a square face.

Lob Wedge:

As we mentioned before, the lob wedge gives you higher ball flight and lesser ball roll and shit distance. This is useful for short-side shots.

Step 2: Ball position to hit out of Sand Trap

 

Sand often swallows up part of the ball. So your swing with the sand wedge should bottom out somewhere 2-3 inches before the ball position. This way, the club will encounter the ball in its upward arc and lob it out of the sand trap.

To do this, place the ball ahead in your stance, right in front of your left heel (For a right-handed golfer). This means the ball will be about 1-2 inches inside from the left toe.

Step 3: Stance to hit out of a Sand Trap

Stance to hit out of a Sand Trap

For sand play, you should remain stable on the ground. So displace some sand near your feet and dig your feet in by 1 cm. You should stand with your feet apart wider than your shoulder. But don’t open up your legs too wide. Moderation is the key.

The most important point is to open your stance and clubface. For an open stance, the axis of your feet should be to the left of the target line.

An open stance looks like this:

Stances

An open clubface looks like this:

Open club-face

About 75% of your weight should be on the front foot (left foot for right-handed golfers). Choke down on the club grip for increased control. This will not reduce the distance much as you will increase the swing speed for the ball to go farther.

Step 4: Backswing to hit out of a Sand Trap

A swing from the sand bunker should be long and smooth. Try to visualize yourself splashing water out of the sand bunker with your club. Take the club all the way up to the top by moving your arms and shoulders, not your wrist or entire upper body.

Step 5: Downswing

Take an outside-in swing path with an open clubface while swinging down. It must aim the ground around 2-4 inches behind the ball. It will take a divot and dislodge the ball from the ground to get it airborne.

Your path will look like this:

Downswing

Step 6: Impact to hit out of Sand Trap:

If you cannot manage an outside-in swing path, take an inside-square-in path and move the club inwards in the follow-through. The club should slice into the sand, travel flat through it, collect the ball, and head up and out left.

Step 7: Follow through to hit out of Sand Trap

The ball must be led high and out of the bunker in the follow-through. The release should be moderate in case the hole is 30+ yards away. The lack of upper body rotation should keep your follow-through from being too long.

But you must make a relatively short follow-through if you want to control the distance traveled by the ball.

Step 8: Plugged Ball

Or ‘Fried Egg’ as this dreaded situation is fondly called, refers to when the ball is embedded deep in the sand. Here you should focus on keeping your swing steep. This requires a vigorous swing. The follow-through is short. Your only aim at getting the ball right out of the sand bunker.

Here’s how Justin Rose does it:

Pro Tips:

Here’s a little extra for the talented go-getter golfers. We explain here how to get out of the wet sand:

Wet sand is tougher to hit through because the particles sit more closely-packed. But when you hit the wet sand, it propels the ball like a moving wall. So you must swing easier. Your clubface should be exaggeratedly open to get through wet sand, otherwise, it may get stuck. Make sure the club hits the sand with the trailing edge so that its bounce is fully utilized.

By slapping the sand with the club, the clubface will penetrate it and get under the ball. The firmer the sand is, the harder you should slap it and the farther the ball will fly. Swing easy and slap hard to get out of a wet situation.

Conclusion

Hitting out of a sand trap is a pet peeve to many golfers. We want to allay their fears by building their skills in this area. The fear comes from wanting too much out of your sand play and failing at it. Golfers usually aim to reach the pin from the sand bunker directly and end up topping the ball. But if you only manage to get the ball out of the sand bunker, you just have to hit 20-30 yards extra. It is easier than having to take another sand shot. So make sure you approach the sand bunker with the right mindset.