124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2


Take the Easy Way Out

By Butch Harmon Photos by J.D. Cuban
March 26, 2015

There are all kinds of shots I could teach you from a greenside bunker, but I'll bet you'd be happy with just one: A shot that puts you somewhere on the green—every time.

I know you're feeling some nerves when you climb into the sand, so I'm going to keep this simple. It's mostly about the setup. Holding your sand wedge in front of you, turn the face open about 20 degrees, then take your grip.

Get into your stance with the ball way forward—opposite the heel of your front foot. Then set a little more weight on your front side, but don't push your hands toward the target. You want the shaft to be straight up and down.

Make a half backswing, then really spank the sand two to three inches behind the ball. Here's the visual: You're throwing the sand and the ball out of the bunker together. Easy—and it works.


One of the big issues on bunker shots is, people think they're supposed to cut across the ball. When you do that, you lose the sliding action of the club. Why? Because that action comes from the face being open, and it's hard to hold the face open when it's cutting to the left. Swing out to your target, like on a normal pitch shot.

Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.