A Step-by-Step Guide to Hitting Out of a Steep Bunker

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If you’re a golfing fanatic (like me), you’ve probably avoided hitting your ball in a steep sand bunker. To the golfing-eye, they look unpleasant as we all know they’re the most challenging places to knock your ball out of. But, with the proper technique, practice, and club, you’re able to hit that ball right out of there. Before we get into these exclusive techniques, let’s discuss what a steep bunker is in golf for those who don’t know.

A steep bunker is a depression near either the green or fairway that is filled with sand. They implement these within a golf course to increase the difficulty as it’s challenging to perform a swing out of them successfully.

Now everybody knows what a steep bunker is, we’re now ready to discuss the techniques and drills to improve your swing within these areas. Although you’ll typically try to miss a steep bunker when playing golf, sometimes you can end up there.

How do you hit out of a steep bunker?

Steep bunkers, or commonly known as sand traps, can be highly problematic for individuals that aren’t well-trained within that area. But, as a golfer, you’ll need to practice in the sand, as bunkers are found on all golf courses.

If you want to enhance your golfing skills by increasing your performance in steep bunkers, I suggest you read the guide below.

Step 1: Setting up

First things first, you’ll need the select the appropriate club for the bunker. This highly depends on where you’re positioned on the course. Here are some clubs you should consider using when you’re setting up your bunker shot, depending on your location:

  • 60-degree lob wedge – You’ll want to select this club if you short-side yourself in a deep greenside bunker. For those who don’t know, this means you don’t have a lot of green to work with, and therefore, you’ll need it to go high and short.
  • 56-degree sand wedge – Now, if you’ve positioned yourself in a long-side steep bunker (the opposite of the short-side, meaning you have a lot of green to work with), you’ll want to select a 56-degree sand wedge. This is because they’re superb at gaining both height and distance to get out of the bunker successfully.
  • 52-degree gap wedge – If you don’t have a 56-degree sand wedge in your caddy, another superb choice for when you’re positioned in a long-side steep bunker is a 52-degree gap wedge. Again, this will provide you the same outcome like the above.

Note – Many people believe they can only use sand wedges when striking out of a bunker. However, many professionals have proven this isn’t the case, and you can get better results using the above.

Analyze the condition of the sand

Something else you’ll want to consider is the condition of the sand. On a golfing course, you’ll typically have either soft or firm sand. Here’s what you need to know about them:

  • Soft sand – When hitting out of soft sand, you’ll want to open your clubs face as much as you possibly can to prevent the leading edge from digging into the sand and getting stuck. If this occurs, it can result in your follow-through being restricted, and you may not receive the swing you were hoping for.
  • Firm sand – If you’ve hit yourself into firm sand, you’ll want to square your clubs face so that the leading-edge digs into the sand slightly. From this, you can generate more height on the swing, which will aid you with hitting the ball out of the deep bunker.

Now you briefly understand what you need to look out for. Before even swinging, you’ll also need to position yourself correctly.

Step 2: Positioning

Including the rules above, you’ll want to consider the below-positioning tips for when you’re stuck in a deep bunker. Here’s what you need to think about:

  1. Firstly, you’ll want to provide yourself with a good base. You’re able to achieve this by slightly twisting and digging your shoes into the sand. This way, when you go to perform the swing, you won’t fall backward or lose stability.

Most sand shots tend to receive the best results when they play the ball off their front foot. This is due to the overall trajectory of the ball. Typically, the further back you strike the ball, the less height you’ll receive. Performing the swing this way will also help with the backspin.

  • Once you’ve considered the above, you’ll want to open both your stance and club face. This is extremely important as it promotes a higher and softer ball flight. Performing this also aids your clubs face to slide underneath the ball, giving it additional height.
  • Finally, you’ll want to adjust your weight depending on the grade of the landscape. Because it’s a steep bunker, you’ll probably want to place around 80% of your weight on the front leg and the further 20% on the back leg. Although this can sound somewhat questionable, this can help aid backspin.

Now you have your positioning down to a “T”. It’s time to swing yourself out of this dreaded bunker. Here’s how:

Step 3: The swing

Now you’ve successfully positioned yourself to perform a good swing, you’ll actually need to execute it. Without a doubt, before pulling the trigger on your swing, be sure you’ve got the right club, evaluated the condition of the sand, and you’ve positioned yourself well. Now all these boxes are ticked, this is how you’ll want to perform your swing:

You’ll want to develop an outside-in swing path. From this type of swing path, you’re able to provide the ball with enough height to clear the deep bunker and gain a fair distance away from it.

Step 4: Following through

After performing a swing, you’ll need to follow through correctly to get the ball to continue in the direction you’re hoping for. Here’s how to follow through when you’re hitting out of a steep bunker.

With sand shots, you need to follow through. Failing to do this will slow the impact you have between the club and the ball. If you’re in a steep bunker, you’ll want to follow through high. From doing this, you’re aiding the ball to gain height, which is ideal for this type of situation.

How do I get out of the deep greenside bunker?

If you want to get out of a deep bunker near the greenside, you’ll want to consider the below tips.

  • Get the right club – First things first, you’ll need to select the right club because you’re in a greenside bunker. For this, I highly recommend you use a 60-degree lob wedge. This will allow you to perform a high yet short strike. This is ideal on a deep greenside bunker, as you’ll typically want to cover a short distance to get onto the green, but you’ll need the height to get over the lip of the deep bunker.
  • Lay the face open – Next, you’ll want to lay the face open. What I mean is that you’ll want to position a 60-degree lob wedge up towards you. To better visualize this, you’ll want to think that you’re trying to balance a water bottle at the end of the club. This is how you’ll want to strike the ball. From doing it this way, you’ll gain a nice amount of height to clear you out of the deep bunker.
  • Remember, swing hard – When you’re in a deep sand bunker, you need to be willing to swing with a bit of aggression. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to remember the technique, but how hard you swing plays a vital role in hitting yourself out of a deep bunker.
  • Look down! – Something people miscomprehend is that you need to look down, not up when performing a deep bunker shot. It’s a natural habit to look up at something overpowering you, but with a bunker shot, look down! From looking up, you have a higher chance of miss-hitting the ball due to its graded environment.

By following the guidance above, you’ll be able to execute a better well-rounded swing to get out of a deep greenside bunker. However, practice makes perfect. Because of this, you’ll want to implement some steep bunker drills within your training schedule. If you’re not sure how to undergo these, check out the below:  

Steep bunker drills that’ll enhance your golfing

Many beginners, amateurs, and professionals within the golfing world perform drills to get better at a specific part of the game. For instance, someone may train for more powerful swings. If that’s the case, they may need to visit a golfing range, etc.

However, because you’re looking to enhance your skills for getting out of a bunker, I recommend you consider the following drills.

Line in the sand drill

Something many people struggle with is positioning the swing right to develop enough height and distance. One way you can enhance your skill within this field is something called the line in the sand drill.

This requires you to visit a bunker and draw a line with either your shoe or club. After you’ve done this, you’ll want to practice your swing (mentioned above). The goal of this drill is to strike the club just before the line. This simulates the ball in an actual game situation, and this can help build muscle memory around this type of scenario.  

Towel drill

When you feel comfortable with your striking ability, you’ll want to move onto a more advanced drill, and this is the towel drill. If you fall into a deep bunker near the green, you’ll want to practice either getting it in the hole or hitting it in a position for you to put.

To enhance your skill, you’ll want to find a green with various bunkers around it. After finding one, you can set up various game situations and position your towel in areas where you want the ball to land. After doing this countless times, you’ll start to gain the knowledge required to make these shots continuously.

Bunker drill

Another drill, which is similar to the towel drill, but with a group of people. Have you ever played around the world on a dartboard? Well, this is highly similar, but in the golfing world.

To play this game, you’ll first want to find a green with various bunkers around it. With a friend or coach, etc., you’ll want to set up multiple markers around each bunker. This will be where you hit the balls from. The first person to complete the circuit is crowned the winner of the bunker drill.

Ladder drill

This next drill is widely used within the golfing industry, which helps with accuracy, speed, and power. Surprisingly, you won’t need a ladder for this drill. Instead, you’ll need a golfing range and three balls.

What you want to do, is to hit the first ball as hard as you possibly can. After you’ll want to hit the second ball shorter, then the third ball in the middle. Although this can be rather easy, the game’s aim is to land the balls close to each other.

Although this is away from the bunker, it helps develop speed, power, and accuracy, which are three factors for successfully hitting yourself out of a steep bunker.

Test different clubs

Lastly, don’t be afraid to test different clubs. I’ve mentioned above the “best” clubs that people of all skill levels use. But everyone is different, and you may perform better shots from not using the above clubs.


As you can grasp from the above, the technique is simple to get out of a steep bunker successfully. However, the tricky thing is actually to get the process right. Realistically, the only way to perform this type of shot with power and accuracy is by developing a better skill in that type of game situation.

Practice makes perfect in this scenario, and it’s undoubtedly something you should train for to develop a better swing to hit out of steep bunkers.

So, now you understand how to achieve this, there’s one this left to do. Yep, you guessed it, actually implementing it.