How to Hit a Bunker Shot from a Downslope

A downslope bunker lie happens when the ball finds itself on the inner side of the bunker that is opposite the green. This is in contrast to what usually happens, which is that the ball rolls down the slope and comes to rest in the flatter portion of the bunker, towards the middle. If the ball comes to rest on the inner side closest to the green then you will be faced with an upslope bunker shot.


Key Difficulties:

  • Maintaining balance
  • Careful not to blade – skull – the ball
  • Ball will fly lower and roll more than normal

Widen Stance for Stability

Widen your stance for a bunker shotBecause you will not be standing on level ground but on a downslope it is important that you take precautions to keep yourself in balance. Widening your stance will give you a stable position during the setup and throughout the swing.


Tilt Body Until Spine Is Perpendicular to Slope

Tilt your body forward so your spine is perpendicular to the downslopeNow that your wide stance gives you a stable base try to tilt your body forward until your spine is perpendicular to the slope. If you are not able to do so because of how severe the slope is try to tilt as far as you comfortably can. Doing this will help prevent your club from approaching the ball on its side, which could produce a skulled shot. Instead, this setup modification will allow for the club to penetrate the ground and travel through the sand under the ball, as intended.


Use a Lob Wedge Instead of a Sand Wedge

Use a lob wedge instead of a sand wedge for certain bunker shotsBecause of the way you set up with your body tilted forward the effective loft of your club is actually reduced. In order to help regain the full loft use a lob wedge (~ 60°) instead of your regular sand wedge (~ 56°).

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Make Sure Right Knee is Not in the Way

Make sure that your hands will stay clear of your knees during your swingBecause of your open stance it is quite possible that your right knee will be in the way. This usually happens when the slope is quite severe and you are not able to tilt your body forward enough to match the slope. Make a few practice swings – without touching sand of course – and make sure your swing path doesn’t interfere with your knee. If it does, modify your stance until your knee is out of the way.


Ball Will Fly Low and Roll

Aim short of the hole; ball will roll after landingEven if you followed the advice above to get effective loft back you should expect that the ball will fly lower and roll some distance upon landing into the green. As such, make sure the opposite side of the bunker is not too high and that the ball can actually clear over the lip. If you fear it might not it then consider aiming away from the flag if your odds of escaping the sand are better.


Other Elements, Borrowed from the Typical Bunker Setup

Other setup elements of a downslope bunker shotOther than the modifications proposed above, use the same setup that you would normally use and no longer fear the upslope bunker shots.

  • Grip down on the club slightly,
  • Open the clubface,
  • Open your stance,
  • Position the ball slightly forward in your stance
  • Aim 2 inches behind the ball
  • Use an aggressive swing – don’t decelerate

How to Hit a (Normal) Bunker Shot

Bunker Shot Setup


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Bunker Shot Tips

Bunker Shot Tips


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