Get Out and Onto The Green
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Greenside Bunker Shot
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.
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.
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.
At impact, notice that despite my steep swing and huge divot, my body shows no sign of trying to scoop or lift the ball from its submerged lie. Instead, I’ve hit down and hard behind the sand with a square clubface at impact. To practice this shot yourself, try hitting from a few buried lies in the sand and copy my flat-footed position at impact. It’s a sure sign I didn’t overrotate through the shot and I’m able to dig hard behind the ball. As for the flight, buried lies are unpredictable, so expect just about any ballflight to happen. The key is to excavate the ball from the sand at whatever cost.
The High-Face Bunker Shot
To hit the downhill bunker shot, one of the toughest shots in golf by the way, instead of adjusting your shoulder to match the downhill slope, try to stay level. Because your weight will now favor your front leg, expect to hit less sand and watch for a very low, hot ballflight. The key here, as with all bunker shots, is to get the ball out of the sand.
Not all bunker shots will lead to tap-in pars, but with good, simple mechanics, getting up and down from the sand will become easier and easier. Make sure you get out there and practice in the sand!
Jeff Yurkiewicz, PGA, is the head golf instructor at the Grayhawk Learning Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. To learn more and to book a lesson, visit grayhawkgolf.com.