Master the Course

Five tips to escape greenside bunkers

By Andrew Prezioso
Published on

Bubba Watson hitting out of downhill bunker lie.Getty Images

We reached out to Tommy Wolfenberger, PGA Professional, to see what golfers can do when they're faced with one of the most common hazards: a greenside bunker, which can also be one of the most frustrating to conquer.
Here are five tips from Wolfenberger on how to get your ball onto the green:
  1. Swing with the slope
    On a downhill lie, you are going to be swinging with the slope and many times the finish is a little bit shorter. The ball is going to come out lower, faster, and run a little bit more on a downhill lie. On an uphill lie, most of the time you’re going to have a lower swing and the ball comes out higher and softer.
  2. Choose the right bounce of the wedge
    On a downhill lie, most of the time it’s better to use a wedge with less bounce to make sure that you’re digging in and swinging with the slope. If you have too much bounce, you'll catch the sand and there’s a good chance your ball will go over the green.
  3. Examine your conditions
    You can test it when you’re digging your feet in. You can see if there’s a lot of sand or if it’s fluffy or tight lie. The conditions should dictate what type of shot you’re hitting. If it’s fluffy or a lot of sand, you need to use a lot of bounce. If it’s tighter, use a little bit less bounce.
  4. Make sure to release the club
    A lot of people fail to release the club. A good release of the club puts the spin on the ball. Too many amateurs get in there and don’t release it.
  5. Don’t get too worried about being in the bunker
    A lot of times, the better players would rather be in the bunker than the rough because you can predict what type of shot you have. You don’t have to worry about the grass grabbing the clubface and you can generally see what type of lie you have. You don’t always have that luxury of seeing what type of lie or what’s under the grass in the rough.