Sometimes it feels like a war with ourselves playing out of the piles of sand they rake beautifully and nicely name, "bunkers".
But don't be disheartened, even the pros screw it up every now and then. With the right club and technique, the sand will look more like a zen garden to you than the trenches of war. Check out my guide to getting out of bunkers.
The good news is there's a formula for picking the best sand wedge for bunkers. And if you still have trouble even after using that formula, there are fool-proof, fail-safe sand wedges designed exclusively for the sand. And if you're a more advanced player, check out my guide here on wedges.
Best Sand Wedges for Bunkers 2021
- Cleveland Smart Sole 3 (best sand wedge for bunkers and around the greens)
- Callaway SureOut 2 (best sand wedge for fluffy and normal bunkers)
- Callaway Mack Daddy CB (best sand wedge for most golfers)
- C3i Wedge (black color alternative to the Smart Sole)
- Cleveland CBX 2 (best wedge you'll never get rid of)
The ideal sand wedge specifications for bunkers
Most manufacturers will state the loft and bounce angle for their wedges. Thick sole and high bounce are the key factors in hitting good bunker shots.
I covered golf bounce here in our high handicap wedge article. Basically, in combination with a big thick sole, the sand wedge BOUNCES off the sand instead of digging in and leaving the ball a few feet in front of you.
The reason we can't get out of bunkers is lack of follow-through and the club digging into the sand. Higher-bounce clubs produce shots where the ball pops out on a pillow of sand floating out of the bunker.
From war time to zen time
With the right club (and technique), you won't have any fear of the sand anymore. You'll get out of the bunkers in one shot and slash strokes off your game. In fact, you'll look forward to impressing your buddies with all the sand saves you'll be racking up.
So now that you're all zen-like, let's earth and get grounded with some suggestions. Please note that these clubs are specialty bunker wedges and might not perform very well from longer distances on full swings.
Top stroke saver around the greens
The Smart Sole S Wedge gets you out of the bunker and onto the green effortlessly. Despite the weird looks of the club, at address it looks like any other wedge. There is a massive difference between this one traditional wedges though. You do not need to go for the Smart Sole 4. The 3 is money!
And you can do all of it with a square face - no need to open it up and manipulate the club. It does all the work for you.
I bought a Smart Sole S Wedge for a friend of mine. He was off a 14 handicap and a massive equipment snob. He would never play with a club like this but he couldn't get out of bunkers so I bought this as a joke. We laughed and he told me to f*** off but put it in his bag anyway. On the 4th hole and he's in the bunker, shaking like a dog passing a peach pip. I throw this wedge at him and he swings his usual scaredy cat bunker swing...
He hit it to 5 feet, made the par putt and hasn't stopped getting up and down from the bunkers since. He's also started using it around the greens. He now plays off a 10 handicap and hasn't changed anything else in his bag except including this club.
I have used this wedge to see how it works in the sand and it's confirmed, it's great. You need to use a square stance and square club face. You don't need to open the face or open your feet up. You must however, still use a lot of wrist on the shot. You can "chip" the ball out, but you must chip with loose wrists and flick them as you go through the ball. It works 100%.
I so love these wedges that I have in fact bought 3 for my friends who struggled from the bunkers and gave them as gifts.
Good for normal and fluffy sand
Callaway put a nice thick sole on the Sure Out 2 like most of the specialist sand wedges, but they've also put grooves over the whole club face! Regardless of where you hit it on the face, it's going to have some zip on it.
Out of sand, the Sure Out does what it says - gets out! The best part is you don't need to open the face like Phil Mickelson - it's best to hit bunker shots with the face square. No more worrying about hitting it in the teeth and hurting someone on the other side of the green!
WARNING! Please do take note of this. Avoid the 64° option in this club. You'll think it's going to help you but this club will harm your game. I'd suggest a 56 or 58 degree version. Even the 60 degree may be too tricky if you struggle from the sand and chipping.
Cavity back wedge for forgiveness
For golfers who have issues with most wedges and the short game, this is a simple, user-friendly wedge that will increase your consistency around the greens because of how forgiving it is. So many wedges nowadays are just the blade-style wedges and they can be hard to hit and off center strikes just do not perform.
It's a Game Improvement wedge and like with the game improvement irons, the cavity back and weighting of the club, coupled with the thick, wide sole, it glides through long grass and sand with ease. If you're having trouble making good swings in the sand due to the fear of the club digging or decelerating, the Mack Daddy CB assists big time with this.
A lot of golfers want to play the players premium wedges you see on television. I'll keep hammering these cavoty backed and thick, wide soled wedges to as many people as I can. The main aim is to GET OUT OF THE BUNKER FIRST TIME.
Why buy equipment that you're fighting? You need clubs that you love and there's very much a lot to love about this wedge.
One of the best wedges from the sand for any golfer
Cleveland CBX are the preferred wedge of Didi on my channel and he plays off a 9 handicap. This is a wedge that will last you well into the future. It's a hollow cavity club so it's not a blade. You'll find it very easy to hit with a full shot as well as for pitching and chipping, reducing those ones that get left short on mis hits.
From the sand, you will need to learn the proper technique of manipulating the face, which you can see in the video at the bottom of the screen. I played Cleveland wedges from 17 handicap down to a 7 handicap before I started playing with the blade style Mizuno and Ben Hogan wedges.
Cleveland are and always have been a special wedge manufacturing company. These are excellent for low, mid or high handicap golfers looking for a good overall wedge that performs well from the bunkers. Learning the technique will stand you in good stead for when you want to upgrade later after building a lot of confidence.
Very similar to the Smart Sole 3
I bought one of these for testing while I was in Malaysia during 2020. I wanted to compare it to all sorts of other big sole sand wedges. I had five or six of them and only this one and the Smart Sole made the cut to be included in the list.
The other big bottom girls were not able to make the cut because the sole was just a big wedge shape of solid mass. C3i wedges are also a cavity back with a big hollowed out section in the back. They have a very wide and thick sole to glide under the ball in the sand.
You still need to hit behind the ball in the sand but you don't need to open the face with this club. If you do, you will have problems. It's intended to be used square to the ball in the sand and then taken back and swung with a very loose-wristed chip into the ball, 2 inches behind the ball in the sand.
Remember to follow through. Decelerating and leaving the club head in the sand doesn't work for any bunker shot at all. This is an easy to use bunker club and is almost identical in performance to the Smart Sole mentioned above. Smart Sole is also available in black and the only reason I would recommend this over the Cleveland is if you want a heavier club.
This one is a little heavier.
Important information about the specialty type of wedges
The wedges outlined in this guide like the Sureout, Smart Sole and C3i are unique and some things need to be remembered to gain full value from them without disappointment:
Here's a video I did on getting out of bunkers
This is a good video for people using traditional style sand wedges. The specialty wedges like the Smart Sole and big fat soled wedges are a bit different and you'll need to play a chip style shot with very loose wrists.