The 40-yard bunker shot is often referred to as the hardest shot in golf. What makes it so tough is that it’s an awkward distance in between a greenside and fairway bunker shot. Fairway bunker shots require the golfer to hit the ball first and the sand second; greenside bunker shots require an explosive sand shot.
Because it’s in between the two, this shot can be played either way. In this video, SwingU instructor Josh Kelley talks about two different ways we can hit this awkward bunker shot.
The first way to hit this shot is to hit the ball first and the sand second. To hit this shot, use a gap or sand wedge. Choke down on the club and place the ball back in your stance. Make sure to rotate and create forward shaft lean at impact. Club selection will determine how hard you need to swing, but this is not a full shot; employ a ¾ swing at most.
The second way we can hit this shot is a lot like a greenside bunker shot, just with a much different club (8-iron in this example). Open the clubface up and aim left to offset the open face. Place ball slightly forward in your stance. Hit 2 inches behind the ball with an accelerating swing.
These are shots that require a lot of practice. Try both of them out and see what you are more comfortable with playing.