Better Bunker Play

Getting the ball out of a bunker can be difficult for the average golfer, however many elite players would prefer a shot from the sand rather than the rough. A good reason for this is the consistency and control they have striking a ball from a clean lie in the bunker. With a few good tips and some practice, you can become more confident and strike solid shots out of the sand.

The goal is to strike the sand first and splash the ball up and out of the bunker. To be more successful, you must start with a good set-up position. Get your feet wider than normal and add more knee flex to get lower. Slightly open the face of the golf club to keep it from digging too much. Position the ball slightly forward in your stance and focus on a spot in the sand about 1-3 inches behind the golf ball. A good visual is to picture a dollar bill lying in the sand with a golf ball in the middle. Your divot should typically be the size of that dollar bill with the club striking the sand at the start, and exiting the sand at the end of the dollar. Eliminate any tension in your hands or arms before making your swing. This will allow your wrists to hinge the club up properly in the backswing. Try to make the club “spank” the sand by allowing your wrists to unhinge correctly into the spot behind the ball. Fully turn through by making sure your chest faces the target at the end of your swing.

Always trust that the loft on your wedge will splash the ball up and out of the bunker. Too many players try to lift or help the ball up into the air. Remember that your goal on each bunker shot is to simply splash the sand up towards your target. Don’t over complicate your swing approach, instead focus on a solid set-up and trust your swing to the finish. I try and encourage students to remember, “hinge and turn”. Once you have the correct set-up, hinge the club back, then turn it through to a good finish position.

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