How to Conquer the Long Greenside Bunker Shot


This week the PGA Tour heads over to the Valero Texas Open held at TPC San Antonio. Last year’s tournament made a first time PGA Tour winner out of Steven Bowditch, and it punched his ticket to The Masters. TPC San Antonio is known for their natural and rugged bunkers.  This minimalist design around the edge of the bunkers emulate the canopy of the native oak trees that can be seen throughout the entirety of the course.

“The topographic subtleties of the rolling Texas Hill Country terrain, framed by magnificent stands of mature live oaks, create a pristine natural setting that is as playable as it is beautiful.”  -Greg Norman

 Set Up

To pull off this shot you’ll need to adjust your stance, ball position, and the clubface. You’ll want to widen your stance a little more than a traditional bunker shot and your weight distribution should be even between your two feet. You should then position the golf ball a little more forward and towards your front foot as opposed to being in the middle of your stance. During your normal set up the leading edge of the golf club is closer to the ground which will make the club dig into the sand. To combat this, you’ll then want to open the clubface.


Shallow Your Swing

To help alleviate the club from wanting to dig into the sand, take a shallower swing. This can be done by taking the club back more around your body as opposed to taking the club back more upright (which you would do on a more traditional golf shot). You’ll still want to take a divot, so be sure to hit about an inch and a half behind the golf ball. Keep in mind the golf ball will generally come out with a little less spin than normal, so be sure to allow for more roll out.


Pulling off a long bunker shot takes a lot of practice. Practicing this shot will teach you how far the golf ball will travel depending on the length of your swing and the golf club you’re using. To gain some feedback you’ll want to hit your SW, PW, 9-iron, 8-iron, etc. to see how far the golf ball will travel.

Quick Recap

1. Set Up – Check your ball position, weight, and alignment. Place the ball a little forward in your stance with your weight distributed evenly. Take an open stance and an open the clubface.

2. Shallow Your Swing – Taking a shallower back swing and follow through produces a lower ball flight with less spin.

3. Practice –  This cannot be emphasized enough! Try different clubs to determine the best results.

Taking all of these steps will ensure balance and stability for pulling off the long bunker shot!


Looking for more instruction from our PGA Professionals? Take a look at some prior weeks that you may have missed including: Swing Like a King, 4 Ways to Improve Your Lag Putting, How To Hit The Stinger Off the Tee, and How to Master Playing in the Wind.

Emmett Brantly

Emmett Brantly has been a Class “A” member of the PGA of America since 2003. He graduated from Campbell University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Golf Management. He has worked in Public, Semi-Private, Private, and Resort golf facilities in Raleigh and Pinehurst North Carolina. He has also worked in various retail settings, as well as holding positions of PGA Teaching Professional at various academies including the Pinehurst Golf Academy. Emmett has a strong passion for growing the game of golf by displaying his extensive knowledge in club-fitting, teaching, fitness, and product knowledge.