Playing From the Bunker: Mastering the Long Splash Shot

If there is one shot that stands out above the rest as the most difficult in golf, it would probably be the long bunker shot. When you find yourself in a bunker with your ball around 30 – 40 yards from the hole, you will have to hit an impressive shot to get in close and have a good chance to make your putt. It is possible to improve your game from this awkward distance, but it will take some practice.

The tips offered below should help you understand how to approach the difficult long bunker shot –

  • Use less loft. Rather than using your usual sand wedge as you would for a shorter bunker shot, try going down to a pitching wedge or gap wedge for less loft. Since you need to get more yards out of the shot in order to reach the target, using more club will make that task a little easier. You will still need to make adjustments to your technique, but this simple club change will make things a little bit easier.
  • Play it back in your stance. You are looking for a lower ball flight in order to get the ball to carry and roll farther across the green. To make that happen, try putting the ball farther back in your stance while still accelerating through the shot. Keep the clubface more square than you would on a typical splash shot from a greenside bunker to help the ball come out cleanly. Make sure that you have enough room to hit this shot without hitting the lip of the bunker in front of you. If you don’t have room, you will need to just hit a higher shot and accept that you will probably come up short of the hole.
  • Hit closer to the ball. When playing a short bunker shot, the idea is to put the club into the sand a couple inches behind the ball and let the movement of the sand carry the ball out of the bunker. That plan isn’t going to work when hitting a longer bunker shot. Instead, try to make contact with the sand just barely behind the ball so you transfer more energy into the ball – and the shot goes farther. This is a more difficult shot to execute than the typical splash shot, so keep your eyes down and focus on the spot you are trying to enter the sand.