Make loft your ‘friend’ in greenside bunkers | by Sven Nielsen

A common perception in golf is that we can only use the sand wedge in the greenside bunker (which comes from the club being called a sand wedge, a little misleading I know, but it’s certainly not the only club we can use out of the bunker, especially around the green when we have different distances to cover to the pin flag). I always encourage my students to look at the loft or degree of the golf club, rather than the name of the club. Here we will look at three clubs, with three different lofts, we can use in a greenside bunker to hit the golf ball three different lengths.

Usually, most people would hit the sand wedge from all three positions not thinking about the distance the ball will need to go. As you will see below, I have selected three different clubs with three different lofts that will help me cover the different lengths for each shot. I have listed below what club I selected for each shot.

  • Ball No.1 is 20 yards – my 58 degree lob wedge.
  • Ball No.2 is 35 yards – my 50 degree gap wedge.
  • Ball No.3 is 55 yards – my 46 degree pitching wedge.

With there being less loft or degrees on each golf clubs, it will be easier to use the same bunker technique with each of these shots, making the loft do the work for you.


A couple of technical points to remember for the greenside bunker shot:

  • The ball position needs to be placed forward in your stance (in my case, it’s on my left heel). This will help to hit the sand before the ball, which is vital in a greenside bunker shot.
  • Open the clubface slightly on all these shots, it will help the golf club to ‘bounce’ out of the sand rather than digging into the sand.

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