Bunker shots can become one of the scariest shots for amateur golfers if they don’t learn the proper technique. There a few things I notice consistently with golfers who have trouble hitting bunker shots. Poor bunker players have an improper focus, poor swing path and follow through. By improving these, you can dramatically improve your bunker game and scores.
I always ask people where they are focused on hitting the sand. The answer is almost always “2-3 inches behind the ball.” Having this as your focus can lead to hitting too far behind the ball and leaving the ball in the bunker, or bouncing the club into the ball and skulling it over the green. Put your focus instead on hitting the sand under the ball. This will allow you to focus on the ball, and by hitting the sand under the ball you are effectively hitting just slightly behind the ball.
It is also important to swing the club back on a slightly more upright path to help create a steeper angle of attack on the downswing. Doing so will help eliminate hitting too far behind the ball. Focus on swinging the club back along the path of your feet, which should be aimed slightly left of target, to create a slightly more upright path.
After you hit the sand under the ball, you need to follow through by turning your hips and chest toward the target. You should swing through with enough force to splash the sand out from under the ball and onto the green.
I have included a video to help you with the technical aspects of hitting a bunker shot.