Master long greenside bunker shots | with Mike Bolt

With PGA Professional Michael Bolt, Trump International golf club, DUBAI

The dreaded long greenside bunker shot is one of the most feared and potentially round-destroying shots we face on the golf course. Despite the potentially destructive outcome this shot can lead to, it is not one I see many of my clients regularly practicing or playing with any conviction.

In this scenario we are tackling a bunker shot of around 60 yards, with a medium size lip and plenty of green to work with. Instinctively most golfers will automatically reach for one of their more lofted clubs and aim to fly the ball most of the way to the hole. This is an extremely difficult shot to execute and more often than not will result in taking too much, or too little sand with distance control, strike pattern and flight being compromised.

In order to make this shot more manageable and get the margin for error back in your favour, try playing the shot with a lower loft club, in this case a 9 iron.

By choosing the 9 iron we are aiming to play a lower trajectory and have the ball roll towards the hole, opposed to flying it most of the way with a high amount of spin.

Shot checklist – Pre shot/set-up

1) Loft down to a 9 iron
2) Take your normal bunker stance and ball position

Shot Execution

1. Make a full backswing, rotating the body

It is important to visualise both your landing spot and trajectory.  The thought through impact should be to hit a little further behind the ball than you would for a shorter bunker shot, being sure to present the club with a much shallower angle of attack than usual. This will ‘glide’ the clubhead through the sand propelling the ball forward on a cushion of sand with less spin. It should then come off the face fairly soft, producing a predictable ball flight and reaction with the green.

2. Aim to make contact with the sand slightly further behind the ball than you normally would have done with a high loft club. Keep the angle of attack shallow, do not dig into the sand.

Practice hitting your long bunker shots with a number of different clubs and lofts to see which you are most comfortable with. It is crucial you approach the shot with an element of conviction and commit to the trajectory and landing spot you have chosen. By lowering the loft you now have a licence to commit to taking slightly more sand, so swing big and really rotate through the shot!

3. Rotate the chest toward the target and ensure a full finish.