Bunker Escapes

Get Out and Onto The Green

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Hinge The Wrists
Because your clubface is open, the wedge will have more bounce than usual—again, meaning it’s going to take some experimentation to discover the right amount of sand you need to catch behind the ball. The club and sand will do the work for you, so there’s no need to dig deep and/or try to scoop the ball.
When it comes to bunkers, amateurs fear them far more often than do touring professionals. It’s ironic, considering that most bunker shots require the kind of swing many amateurs have, which is a shorter, steeper golf swing. I suspect a lot of trouble in the bunkers has to do with a lack of both confidence and know-how, two things we’re going to look at here. I’ve broken down a few bunker shots, with hopes of helping you to make your escape and get up and down.

Greenside Bunker Shot

To hit a short bunker shot, it’s not always necessary to dig deep into the sand and make an overly aggressive and steep swing. If you set up correctly, the shot becomes a lot easier. Start with a narrow stance and an open clubface, then place the ball forward in your stance. As you start your backswing, you’ll want to make an early hinge of the wrists. These four components will steepen your swing automatically, meaning there’s no need to try to dig or scoop the ball into the air. Instead, allow the arms to swing down and make contact behind the ball on the forwardswing, just as you would a normal shot—only this time you’re making the divot before the ball, not after. As far as how much divot behind the ball you’ll need, forget about any standardized method. All players have different swings, meaning you need to find a practice bunker and see how far behind the ball you can hit the sand and still execute a good shot. By the way, different sand conditions and types can change the amount of sand you’ll want between the clubface and ball, too. As you swing down and through, allow the hands to hinge after the shot, as well. And do what you can to keep that clubface facing the target while hitting a moderate amount of sand no more than an inch or so deep.

Long Bunker Shot

When it comes to a longer bunker shot, the right way to swing is with a wider, more rotational swing. To set up, square the clubface to the target, play the ball slightly forward of where you’d normally play a shot off the grass and make a lower and slower backswing. The goal is to swing wider than normal in order to shallow out your angle of attack. The shallower the better, since steep shots from fairway bunkers generally lead to fat or chunked shots. As you swing, allow your hands to hinge as normal, only make sure you release and make a full turn through the shot with a smooth tempo.

Speed Up!
Wet Sand Shot

Wet sand shots are never fun, and they can be really unpredictable. To escape this lie, set up with a square clubface and the ball in the middle of your stance. Then, as you would with a normal bunker shot, swing fully down and through the shot, only swing faster, since the wet sand will significantly slow down your clubhead. Also, expect a lower trajectory and more roll once the ball lands on the green. If need be, aim to hit over the lowest point of the bunker lip to make sure you get out of the sand. Most amateurs don’t expect the lower trajectory that comes from wet stuff.

The Buried Shot

This is the shot for you upright swingers. When it comes to the buried bunker shot, you need to stand closer than normal. The closer you are to the ball, the more upright your swing will be, so don’t forget to choke up on the grip to accommodate this up-and-down move. As for ball position, play it in the middle of your stance, which should be narrower than usual, as well. To lift the ball from the buried lie, you need to hit behind the ball with a lot of force in order to push sand under the ball and lift it from the sand.


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