Learn to Vary Your Angle of Attack from the Bunker Properly

Not all bunker shots are created equal – some are played from firm sand while others are played from soft sand, and you can face a variety of distances from the bunker to the green. In order to adjust to the circumstances and hit quality bunker shots more frequently, you need to understand when to vary your angle of attack into the sand. The angle of attack is the angle at which your club comes down from your backswing and enters the sand behind the ball. The proper angle for one shot can be all wrong for another, so understanding this issue is important for good bunker play.

Consider the tips below to get a better idea of how to use the right angle of attack for the right situations on the course –

  • Soft Sand = Shallow Attack. When your ball is sitting on top of some light and fluffy sand, you will want to use a shallow angle of attack to slide the club under the ball and loft it up high into the air. This is the ideal situation for your ball to find, and you should be able to get comfortable with this kind of bunker shot after just a short period of practice. Use this shallow angle for the baseline from which you adjust to the rest of your sand shots.
  • Get Steeper for Firm Sand. If there has been rain falling on the course recently, you are likely to find firm packed sand inside the bunker. If this is the case, you will want to adjust your swing to make a steeper angle of attack down into the ball. Using your shallow swing when the sand is firm could lead to the club ‘bouncing’ off the sand instead of digging in – and a poor shot will result. Swing down steeper to dig through the heavy sand and get the ball out of the trap.
  • Steepest Angle for Plugged Lies. You never want to see your ball plugged in the sand, but it happens from time to time. When you face this challenge, understand that you need to use the steepest angle of attack that you can manage in order to dig into the sand and get the ball out. Depending on the severity of the lie, you may need to aim away from the target and just try to get the ball back on the grass anywhere around the bunker.