A Plan In The Sand

Make bunker play easier with the right know-how

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FIRM SAND
For all bunker shots, even from hard, compact sand, you want to try to hit approximately two inches behind the ball and create a divot that's roughly 1.5 inches deep. Some have compared the divot size to a dollar bill.

For the setup, play the ball in the center of your stance with the hands forward. Keep your weight favoring your left side. And, unlike other bunker shots, you want to play shots from firm sand with a square or even slightly closed clubface. That's because you want to reduce or eliminate the bounce of your wedge to ensure you get plenty of digging action. I tend to grip the club a little firmer, which helps prevent twisting through impact. By the way, make sure you have good footing in the sand. Just because it's firm, it doesn't mean you shouldn't try to dig the feet in a little to prevent slipping.

INSTANT TIP: 
When you buy new wedges, buy sets of two or three, with varying bounce angles. That way, you have more options in different sand conditions.



GET VERTICAL
SQUARE OR LOSE THE FACE
A square or even closed face at setup will lower the leading edge closer to the sand. A lower leading edge means the club will dig more, which is exactly what you need here.

You also want to create a more vertical swing plane, which more likely resembles a Ferris wheel than a merry-go-round. This vertical swing motion will also allow for more dig, which is necessary to create a big enough divot to propel the ball out of this situation. Notice in the upper right photo how vertical my clubshaft is. That's what you want!

In addition, you want to feel the hands staying more ahead of the clubhead through impact. This, again, allows the leading edge to enter the sand first, creating a digging effect.


In the above sequence, you can see I made a very steep swing into the sand about two inches behind the ball. The wedge was able to dig in the firm sand thanks to a lowered leading edge, and as you can see, I continued to dig even after the ball was airborne. There wasn't a big flip or release of the wrists. If anything, I wanted to keep the face square and dig for as long as possible, even if that meant finishing low and with no release of the hands post-impact.

Give this technique a try, and don't be afraid to hit the sand with some extra oomph. Remember, the sand is firm, so it will really slow your swing down the more you dig. So be aggressive and hold that face square through the dig!



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