Stay calm

When you find yourself in a deep pot bunker, your first thought should be about preservation – of both your scorecard and your sanity. It’s important to stay calm and be prepared to take your punishment, meaning that you should be prepared to play the ball out backwards if this the best option available to you.

Consider your options

A lot depends on the lie of your ball. If you are on the downslope at the front of the bunker, you may have more room to clear the lip, but it’s going to be more tricky because of the slope, so you might be better off turning around and hitting the ball out the back of the bunker. This way, you will be playing from an upslope, which is helpful in generating height.

If your lie is good and you think you can clear the lip, you need to splash the ball out, rather than go for distance. I would suggest taking your lob-wedge, opening it up very slightly and playing the ball from the middle of your stance, remembering to catch the sand behind the ball, much like a greenside bunker shot.

One of the great tips Greg Norman gave is to flare your front foot, in other words, open it up. He reckoned that he would actually point his left toes at the target, which would enable him to turn his hips quicker through the shot. The extra clubhead speed would then help generate more height off the shot.

Be relaxed the whole way through

The most important part of this shot is to stay relaxed. You need to stay calm and take your punishment because if you grip the club too tight, you run the risk of thinning the ball and staying in the bunker for your next shot.

Tip by Jonothan Jacobson


Jonathan Jacobson is a PGA professional at Milnerton Golf Club. Formerly the Western Cape PGA Apprentice of the Year, he achieved the top results in the province and came third in South Africa for his PGA examinations.

Contact Jonathan on 072 192 6557 or