Let’s face it… at some point or another when playing golf, we get ‘trapped’. These fundamentals presented below will help you to get out of the ‘sand box’ and improve your green side bunker play.
Use your regular full swing grip. Light grip pressure, you will be using a lot of wrist break with this shot and too firm of a grip will inhibit your ability to break the wrist. Choke down on the club for better feel and distance control.
Open your stance; for the right handed golfer this is done by aligning your feet left of the target line. Take a wide stance with your feet wider than your shoulders, this will help stabilize yourself during the swing. Work your feet into the sand, this will help you to prevent slipping on top of the sand during the swing. Do not touch the sand with your club, you are in a hazard and there is a two stroke penalty under rule 13.4 for touch the sand or testing the surface.
The ball should be placed well forward in your stance. This is a mistake I see so many golfers make. They place the ball too far back in their stance and do not hit sand before contacting the ball. Your contact point with the sand will be up off of your front heel thus the ball must be placed forward of your heel. For a shorter shot, hit more sand before the ball by placing the ball more forward of your heel, about 2 – 3 inches. For a longer shot, play the ball closer to the heel which will result in hitting less sand before the ball and the ball traveling further from the impact. Use the amount of sand taken before impact to control distance, sand equals resistance. The more sand taken prior to impact the more resistance thus slowing the club head speed and shortening distance.
This shot should be done with the Sand Wedge or Lob Wedge. The more loft you have on the club the easier it will be to get the ball up into the air and out of that bunker. I recommend trying the lob wedge, the additional loft with make this shot much easier.
Open the club face up for more loft if needed but remember to adjust your aim by opening your stance until the clubface is again pointing at your target.
Our first priority is to loft the ball into the air and out of the bunker. This requires a steep, wristy swing. You will break your wrists as you take the club back on the backswing. This will also allow you to pick the club up quicker and create a steeper backswing and downswing angle. This swing resembles more of a “V”, up and down quickly unlike the normal swing looks more like a circle. Hit behind the ball, forcing the sand and the ball up and out of the bunker. The more sand that you hit prior to contacting the ball, the shorter the ball will travel. Keep accelerating, follow through! This is where so many golfers fall short of getting out. Take a full swing, hit the sand and follow through to a full finish. Thin of this shot as a “sand explosion”.
Find a practice bunker and hit a lot of bunker shots. You can only learn how to hit this shot by using the correct fundamentals and putting in a lot of practice. Hit shots to a close pin and pin further away to work on how much sand to hit. Put a line extending out from your front heel and work on hitting the line. When you become consistent at hitting the line you will be able to control the distance of the shot by placing the ball more forward of this line for the close pin or placing the ball closer to the line for the further away pin.
The bunker shot is a totally different shot that your normal full golfswing. It requires a different address and swing. Practice this shot using these simple keys and you will improve.