A Plan In The Sand

Make bunker play easier with the right know-how

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Fluffy sand may appear easy to hit from, but don't be fooled. Hitting successful shots requires more finesse here than hitting a shot from firm or normal sand.

However, the main objective in fluffy sand is simple: Don't dig too much. To accomplish this goal, the face should be open, with the hands well behind the ball. The shaft will actually lean away from the target. I like to play the ball a little forward in my stance, with level shoulders. These setup factors will really help expose the trailing edge, allowing for more of a gliding (not digging!) scenario. My weight is centered, and like normal sand, my grip pressure is the same as it is for a regular golf shot.

Although weight shift is limited in the sand, you still have to rotate the body. Flaring the left foot will help make it easier to rotate without losing your footing in the sand.

Why open the face? You want as much bounce as you can get. Because the sand is soft and fluffy, it's going to be very easy to dig and slide the club into the sand and underneath the ball. By opening the face, the added bounce will resist the tendency to dig, helping you hit less sand between the clubface and golf ball. Think glide and not dig!

The desired swing plane from fluffy sand is more rounded and flatter than both firm and normal bunker shots. Think of a merry-go-round, not a Ferris wheel. Again, you're not going to have any trouble getting the club to dig and slide under the ball. A flatter swing plane will prevent you from, you guessed it, digging too much.

Hitting a shot with an open face at address doesn't mean I have to hold the face wide open at impact. If anything, the goal is to release the clubhead as you normally would and allow the hands to cross over post-impact. If you try to hold the face open through the shot, guess what happens? You'll most likely come up short of the flag.

It's imperative to allow the clubhead to pass or swing beyond the handle through impact. This will feel similar to a scooping motion, allowing the wedge to glide through the sand without the clubhead slowing down. The result is a ball that's propelled out and onto the green.

John Stahlschmidt, PGA, is a Top-25 Golf Instructor and is the Senior Head Instructor for the TOURAcademy TPC Scottsdale. To comment on this article, you can email John at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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