It looks so easy right? You see a pro playing golf on TV and he hops in the sand, takes an effortless swing, and hits his bunker shot 2 feet from the hole.
You think to yourself “I should be able to do that”. You then proceed to step in the sand, take a violent lash at the ball, and watch it stay in the bunker or even worse, fly across the green at 100 mph right past your friends head. So what gives? Why aren’t you hitting those nice sand shots right by the hole? The answer is you need a slight adjustment in the way you approach the shot. Bunker shots can intimidating but they don’t have to be. Here are 3 simple tips you can use to hit better shots from the sand:
Tip #1: Check Your Ball Position
Most of us know that when hitting a greenside bunker shot you hit the sand first, which in turn moves the ball out of the bunker. The distance you hit behind the ball is debatable but anywhere from 2-5 inches depending on the player and type of sand will work.
In order to achieve this, the ball must be correctly positioned in relation to your body. The proper ball position for a bunker shot is even with the left (forward) arm pit. This allows the club head to enter the sand just before the bottom of the swing. This will result in the club hitting slightly behind the ball and solid bunker shots. If the golf ball is positioned too far back in the stance the club will tend to dig into the sand. If the golf ball is positioned too far forward the will be coming up and it will be easy to hit behind the ball of catch it very thin. Put down an alignment stick or club to make sure your ball is positioned even with the left arm pit.
Tip #2: Don’t Make the Sand the Target
The biggest phobia in the sand for most golfers is the fear of sculling the shot and seeing it fly across the green. Because of this fear, golfers make hitting the sand their only goal. This usually results in the club digging into the sand and inconsistent shots. When hitting a bunker shot the target is the where you’re trying to hit the ball, not the sand. Take practice swings and feel the golf club swinging through the sand and through to the target. You’ll find when doing this the golf club thumps the sand instead of digging. This swinging through the shot and the thump are what produce solid bunker shots.
Tip #3: Make a Big Enough Swing
For the most part the bunker shot is the only shot where the golf club doesn’t make contact with the ball. The club hits the sand and the sand in turn moves the ball out of the bunker. Because of this the energy transferred to the golf ball is reduced. Simply said, a bunker shot will not go as far as a regular shot because of the sand. To account for this you have to make a bigger swing in the sand. This should be common sense but many golfers make small swings and expect good results with their bunker shots.
Watch any professional golfer on TV and you’ll see them take a much larger than normal swing for even a short bunker shot. Take some practice swings in the sand and feel the bigger golf swing and feel the club finishing through the swing. This extra speed you create with a bigger swing will easily move the ball out of the bunker and onto the green.
So to recap, if you want to hit better bunker shots check your ball position, don’t make the sand the target, and make a bigger swing. Do these things and you will have more success in the sand.