Bunker Shots: Sloping Lie (Upslope/Downslope)

How to Hit Bunker Shots from an Upslope/Downslope

Once you’re comfortable playing a basic bunker shot, we can look at more troublesome sand play…

In this lesson, we’ll see how to play a bunker shot where the ball is sitting on a sloping lie.

You’ll actually come across a sloping lie in the bunker more often than you might think – the ball can easily roll up the lip and leave you an uphill or downhill lie.

See the video below for tips when playing either of these sloping lies in the bunker:

Sloping Lie Bunker Shots – Video Summary

Uphill slope

  • An upslope bunker shot will produce a high ball flight with little ball rollOn an uphill slope the ball is going to come out quite steeply – which will help us stop it quickly on the green.

  • Use a sand wedge for an upslope bunker shotPlaying from an upslope on a fairway we would usually take a lower lofted club to compensate for the very high ball flight. However, on an upslope in a bunker you’ll probably have a bunker lip very close by to clear. So opt for your lofted sand wedge as normal.

  • Tilt your shoulders back to match the slope for upslope bunker shotsSetting up, take a much wider stance to anchor yourself into the hill. Tilt your shoulders so they are aligned with the slope and keep the club face open as you would do normally.

  • Keep your legs still for an upslope bunker shotKeep your legs very still – there should be little or no leg movement for the duration of the swing.

  • Open your stance and clubface, position the ball forward and aim to strike the sand 2 inches behind the ball for upslope bunker shotsStrike the sand about 2 inches behind the golf ball as normal, with the ball slightly ahead of centre in your stance.

  • Try to match the slope with your club path for upslope bunker shotsAs you strike through the ball, allow the club to ‘chase’ up the slope – we want to avoid the club digging into the sand bank and allow the club’s travelling up the slope to give the golf ball its height.

  • Use a full swing an follow through for an upslope bunker shotYou’ll need to hit the shot with enough power to land the ball close to the flag – the height on this shot means you’ll get very little roll.

Downhill slope

  • A downslope bunker shot will produce a low shot where the ball will roll upon landing on the greenOn a downhill slope the ball is going to fly out at a shallower than normal angle. This will also give it more roll.

  • Use a lob wedge for downslope bunker shotsOpen the club face as much as possible. You may also want to use a 60 degree lob wedge over your sand iron here.

  • Tilt your shoulders forward to match the slope for downslope bunker shotsTo minimise the effect of the slope, tilt your shoulders down along the line of the slope. The bodyweight will lean a bit more into the left side (for the right-handed golfer) as well.

  • Take a wider stance for downslope bunker shotsAgain, take a much wider stance to give yourself good balance through the shot.

  • Keep your lower body quiet when hitting a downslope bunker shotKeep your legs very still – there should be little or no leg movement for the duration of the swing.

  • Downslope Bunker Shot Setup: Aim 2 inches behind the ball, aim your feet left of the target and open the clubfaceStrike the sand about 2 inches behind the golf ball as normal, with the ball slightly ahead of centre in your stance.

  • Try to match the slope of the bunker with your club path for downslope bunker shotsAs you strike through the ball, feel as though the club head is chasing down the slope. This will help to minimise the chance of catching the ball thin.

  • Accept that from a downhill sloping lie, anything out of the bunker first time and anywhere on the green is a good result.