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Watch "How to hit Long Bunker Shot " Video
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How to Hit Long Bunker Shots
by Chuck Quinton

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.


First, you must decide on whether or not you play long bunker shots with the same club all the time, or whether you like to use a less lofted club. As discussed in the video, there are pros and cons to both, but essentially, using the more lofted club such as a 60 degree wedge for all your bunker shots will allow you to put more spin on the ball and be more aggressive. Using a less lofted club, anything from a 56 degree sand wedge to as low as a pitching wedge, you can make more of the same swing you would on closer bunker shots, but just let the loft of the club hit the ball the right distance. This is often the easier shot of the two and there is absolutely nothing wrong with playing either way. Practice both, master both, and then let each particular shot dictate what the best play is. The most important thing to be cautious of when hitting ANY bunker shot, especially the long bunker shot, is deceleration. If you find yourself wanting to play the club with less loft and make the same swing, it's important that you take a club with enough loft that you don't fear that you might have to slow down through the sand for fear of hitting it too far. In this case, take the more lofted club and don't be afraid to take an aggressive swing. If you make the more aggressive swing, you should never fear leaving the ball in the bunker.


When it comes to even longer bunker shots, up to about 65 yards, you can still play these as splash shots rather than making contact with the ball. I will personally play a splash shot up to about 70 yards from a fairway bunker with my 56 degree wedge. On these shots, I follow the exact same fundamentals, but I don't hold the face quite as open and I just make a very aggressive swing. The ball will come out very high with a lot of spin and land softly. Some may wonder why I recommend playing these shots this way rather than just taking a wedge and striking the ball. The reason is that 60 yard range is still an "in between" yardage, about a half 60 degree wedge and that is not an easy shot. I prefer to make a full swing and just vary the amount that I open the face of the club so that I can make the most confident and full swing possible. It also gives me the largest margin of error because I still never make contact with the ball. If I were to try and make contact, I would need to play the ball back in my stance to ensure ball-first contact, which would then lower my trajectory. There is also no margin for error on this shot. If I catch it just a tiny bit heavy, I can be faced with the same shot again or another tough "in between" yardage shot. The truth of the matter is, the splash bunker shot provides the greatest margin of error of any shot you hit because you never make contact with the ball. And in a game that is already challenging enough, the bigger the margin of error, the better.


One of the most important keys to the long bunker shot is accelleration. You need speed in this shot and a simple way to check this is at the finish. Note in the picture below that I have come around to a full finish even though I only hit the ball about 30 yards. My clubface is still open at this point, indicating I have kept it open throughout the shot and into the follow through. Keeping the clubface open allows me to make a full swing and be aggressive with no fear of hitting it a mile past the hole or blading it. The next time you are practicing this shot, make sure you come around to a full, balanced finish and you'll have no trouble hitting this shot.


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