For many players, mid length bunker shots are the most difficult shots in the game. I consider these shots to be anywhere from perhaps 25 to 60 yards, or in a range normally too close to pick the ball clean, and too far for your normal greenside bunker setup and shot.
As always, it’s important to evaluate our circumstances, including the lie of the ball, any lip or bunker edge that may be in our way, and how far we need the ball to travel. With the perfect lie, some players feel comfortable picking the ball clean.
Assuming this is not the case, it’s probably best to play a long-range splash shot where we impact the sand first. My suggestion is to play this shot exactly how you would play a greenside bunker shot, except using perhaps an 8-iron, 9-iron or pitching wedge depending on the requirements of the shot. We’ll need to practice a little bit with different clubs and sand conditions to learn how these shots tend to behave.
We lay the club face open just as we do in our greenside bunker shots, with the grooves of the club pointed at our left toe. We aim our body lines left of the target, and plan to swing left as well in order to accommodate for the open club face. When we make our swing, take the club back for sufficient power and club head speed, without over swinging. Impact the sand with a slight descending angle of attack 2 to 3 inches behind the ball, allowing the club to slide under the ball, lifting it up and out of the sand. Because we are using a club with less loft, the ball should come out lower and roll out longer than a typical greenside bunker shot. With an open club face, the club will also present sufficient bounce to create maximum margin for error when impacting the sand. All this being said, these shots are very challenging and require a lot of practice. For many players, just getting out of the bunker represents a success.
In summary, mid range bunker shots represent the in between distance that is too far for your normal greenside bunker process, and too close for a full swing. We first need to assess our lie and circumstances. Assuming the lie is less-than-perfect, play a splash shot with maximum margin for error. I suggest choosing an 8-iron, 9-iron or pitching wedge depending on the length of the shot. Set up and swing exactly the same way as with our greenside bunker shots. Shots will come out lower and longer because of the reduced loft on the club being used. Generally speaking, these shots are very difficult and require a significant amount of practice time.