Skills for the Sand by PGA Golf Professional Liam McCool
Get the basic sand technique right and banish your bunker nightmares-learn to splash the ball out easily.
By learning a few simple fundamentals you ‘ll soon have no problems splashing your ball out of the sand every time.
Get out every time
Many golfers are fearful of leaving their ball in the bunker. The main reason this happens is because they don’t commit themselves to the shot, leaving their club to slow down through the sand and ultimately getting stuck.
To overcome this happening try to think of your bunker shot like a drive. Always accelerate powerfully into and through the sand just as you would to hit the ball a long way off the tee. Another key element required is the importance of swinging with rhythm.
Start by opening the face of your sandwedge.Shuffle your feet into the sand and squat your lower half to drop your centre of gravity. Aim your feet about 30 degrees left of the target but your club just to the right of it. This allows the golfer to cut across the ball upon impact-sliding the club head under the ball which pops the ball out of the bunker- (fig. 1) & (fig. 3)
Hover the club above the point you want it to enter the sand, this hitting area is generally about two inches behind the ball. Let your weight favour your left side slightly helping you to drive down into the sand behind the ball with power and control.
Sand before the ball
The bunker shot is one of the few situations in golf when you don’t want to strike the ball directly-you must strike the sand behind the ball (this will change accordingly for a fairway bunker shot which will be covered next week).
When you practise draw a line in the sand were you want the club to enter the sand ( 2 inches behind the ball).The aim of this drill is to strike the line, by adopting this exercise you soon have instant feedback on where your club is entering the sand in your swing- (fig. 2)
During the swing keep the back of your left hand pointing up at the sky as you swing through the sand. This will help you to keep maximum loft on the clubface, ensuring you get height and stop on your shots.
Once you have mastered the basic bunker technique, try practising to different areas/distances on the green. Again you can use the line in the sand drill to help you with this. To hit the ball further you need to take less sand so move the line in an inch closer to your ball and square your clubface. To hit the ball shorter do the opposite. As a general rule the length of the backswing is determined by the distance you are from the target, but for most greenside shots just beyond waist high on the backswing (fig. 4) and the same on the forward swing are recommended.
The amount of bounce (the wide flange on the sole of your sand wedge) can have a direct effect on how easily you get the ball out of the sand. If you play in bunkers with little sand you want a wedge with less bounce so the club just clips the ball off the top of the hard surface.
If you play in bunkers with deep sand you want a wedge with more bounce to prevent the club digging in and taking too much sand.