Without question, most amateurs make playing from the bunker more difficult than it needs to be. Put it this way: A good lie in the bunker is an easier shot than a decent lie in the deep rough. So, why all the fear and hesitation in the sand?
Simple. To hit better bunker shots, you have to make a few key adjustments to your normal golf swing. First, in a regular shot, your body weight naturally shifts from your center, to your right, and finishes on your left. With a bunker shot, there’s much less weight shifting, as your weight should start on your left, stay on your left and finish on your left!
Check out the sequence of my swing here. My shoulders are level, and my weight is predominantly placed over my left leg. Now, because of this limited weight shift, it’s important to also open my stance and align the clubface at the target (or slightly open, depending on how high I want to hit it). Once comfortable, there’s one more thing I have to do. Swing aggressively with the hands and hit the sand before the ball! A left-sided swing will naturally steepen your swing, so be sure to swing those hands through impact with a full release of the hands after impact with the sand, as I’ve done here. To practice with more active hands, I like to hit practice bunker shots with a very narrow stance, as shown in the pics above.
Allowing your hands to hinge, unhinge and hinge again not only helps prevent you from digging too much into the sand, but also helps the ball fly higher and with added spin. You don’t need to feel as though the clubface needs to stay open all the way through the shot–this is bad advice, and usually makes matters worse for amateurs. Remember, even though you’re in the sand, you still need to make a swing, not a shoveling move. Instead, swing with a steep swing from your left side and aggressively hinge, unhinge and hinge those hands. You’ll see better bunker shots in no time.
_È_ Andrew Getson teaches at the Grayhawk Learning Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. For more information, visit andrewgetsongolf.com.