Have you ever been faced with an uphill bunker shot, and asked yourself how you should play it?
This shot can certainly pose a lot of difficulty for golfers, but with good fundamentals and a sound technique, it’s definitely possible to get better and more consistent.
Anthony was experiencing some frustration with this type of bunker shot and recently asked:
Hi Sean, I’ve been having a lot of issues with my uphill bunker shot. Typically I come up short - and more often than not I leave my shots in the bunker. Do you have any suggestions or techniques that can help me improve?
Proper Club Selection
The first thing I would like you to examine is you club choice.
If your ball is on an upslope, the trajectory of this shot is going to be higher, therefore the ball will not travel as far.
In most cases, golfers’ first instinct is to grab their lob wedge when they need to hit a shot out of the sand.
However, I would like you to consider using a sand wedge - or even a pitching wedge - for hitting bunker shots off of an uphill lie.
Since you’re already on a slope, getting height will not be an issue.
Using a sand wedge or pitching wedge will help achieve more distance on the shot and allow you to carry the ball further on the green.
Uphill Bunker Shot Setup
The second thing I want you to look at is your setup.
It’s imperative to set your body with the gradient of the slope. Get your hips and shoulders parallel to the slope.
The ball position for this shot is going to be just slightly forward in your stance.
For this particular shot, you’re going to need to aim pretty square to the hole.
In regards to weight distribution, make sure you’re not setting up with too much weight on your lead leg.
I would encourage you to have your weight distributed evenly, with fifty percent (50%) under the lead leg and fifty percent (50%) under the trail leg.
Too much weight on the lead leg will encourage the club head to stick in the sand at impact, which will prevent the club head from sliding under the ball - which is what we need it to do for this uphill bunker shot.
Also, too much weight on the trail leg will cause the club head to bottom out too soon behind the ball.
This will force you to scoop, either promoting heavy or thin shots.
The result being that the ball will either not get out of the bunker, or it will fly too high and end up on the other side on the green.
On the backswing, rotate the club head open so that we can expose the bounce of the club even more - as this will benefit you when the club impacts the sand.
This should be done on most bunker shots, because exposing the bounce will make it easier for the club head to slide through the sand.
Remember, for this particular shot I want you to choose a club with less loft (i.e. a sand wedge or pitching wedge).
By doing this, it will allow you to remain consistent and use the same general principles and techniques that I have discussed throughout my video series.
For this uphill bunker shot, I want you to “feel” like your hands don’t get above your belt line during your backswing.
I want you to hinge your wrists aggressively by trying to “feel” that your hands are staying low.
This will make it easier to deliver the club head to the ball and still slide it through the sand.
I don’t want your hands getting too high in your backswing (as I discussed in the downhill bunker shot).
This will encourage the club head to stick in the sand and made it very difficult to slide it through the sand.
Watch this video on How to Hit an Uphill Bunker Shot:
Here’s The Next Step:
If you’d like something as a reminder when you go to driving range or golf course to help you hit an uphill bunker shot, then download the bonus below.
You'll receive a free step-by-step checklist that shows you the exact step-by-step process to hit an uphill bunker shot.