Butch Harmon on mastering the short-sided bunker shot


This is one of those shots where you think to yourself, How am I gonna get anywhere near the hole? First, accept that it’s OK to hit the ball past the flag. The worst thing you can do is get too cute and have the same shot again. Second, realize that with enough loft, you can swing with some speed and still hit a short shot. — with Peter Morrice

Before you even take your grip, turn the clubface open 30 or 40 degrees. Then put your top hand on with the thumb straight down the handle, not turned away from the target like a normal grip. Play the ball up in your stance, in line with your front foot, and lean the shaft away from the target. These moves will add loft and help soften the shot.

Photo by JD Cuban

The swing should be about halfway back and through. As you start the swing, turn the face more open by cupping your left wrist. Feel the face rolling open so the toe points behind you. Maintain this cupped wrist position the rest of the way through.

On the downswing, imagine you’re throwing the clubhead through the sand with your right hand. Think of it as a skimming action where you enter the sand a few inches behind the ball and slide the face under it. That motion of the clubhead passing your hands will maximize loft at impact.

Last thing: Don’t decelerate. You’ve built enough loft into the shot to give it a nice swipe without fear.

BUTCH HARMON is based at Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, Nev.


I just added my fourth video series to the Golf Digest Schools all-access library. It’s about greenside play. The shots that usually make or break your rounds come within 50 yards of the green, and I cover them all one by one in these lessons. Check it out at GOLFDIGEST.COM/ALLACCESS.

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