How to Hit a Downhill Bunker Shot

Get out of the sand and closer to the pin with these technique refinements from Pro Tips.

Playing a standard shot out of the sand presents a series of challenges, but introducing a downhill slope into the equation can significantly raises the stakes even more. Luckily, there is a technique that can help you escape this predicament and optimally position yourself on the putting surface to save valuable strokes.

Say hello to the downhill bunker shot.


Congratulations, your ball has found the sand and came to rest on a downhill slope. This is one of the most challenging shots in golf because it requires you to match your swing plane with the slope, as well as take enough sand behind the ball to lift the shot out of the trap and onto the green. If your swing is off plane, or if you don’t take the optimal amount of sand behind the ball, you will either blade the ball offline or chunk a shot that will remain in the bunker.

To help prevent this outcome, it’s important to simulate this situation at your next practice range session in order to help you develop the comfort and confidence needed to execute this shot on the golf course. Here’s how.


  • Take a wide stance and position the ball toward the middle of your body.
  • Lean your shoulders so that they are parallel with the downhill slope.
  • Pick out a spot roughly a foot behind the ball — digging your club into this spot will allow you to lift the ball into the air and out of the bunker.
  • Take your standard swing, making sure you maintain speed through the shot and into the follow-through.

If the shot is executed correctly, your ball should pitch out of the bunker and land softly onto the putting surface.

With the help of these tips, you’ll be on course to acing this technique.