Posted on: 11 November
Don’t Fear The Sand.
Seeing your ball end up “on the beach” can instantly sends shivers up your spine and put a sickening feeling in your stomach. For most amateurs, thoughts such as “I hope I don’t hit it fat and leave it in the bunker” or “I don’t want to catch the ball a groove too low and blade it over the green” start flooding your mind. Then come the technical questions… “how far behind the ball should I hit the sand? “, “how open should my feet be?”. The questions just keep coming and before you know it you have psyched yourself out of what can actually be a reasonably straight forward and reliable shot.
How do the professionals make it look so easy?
Firstly, consider this. The leading sand save percentage leader in 2019 on the PGA Tour was Francesco Molinari at 65.33%, with the tour average being around 50%. Therefore, on average, the best players in the world only get up and down out of bunkers 5 times out of 10. And keep in mind it’s the PGA Tour with fluffy, consistent sand and well raked bunkers meaning that players generally end up on great lies with no footprints or poorly raked bunkers. Yes, we get it out of the bunker easily but not always super close to the hole. So, lower your perceived expectations and don’t be too hard on your bunker play.
I have three basic thoughts when playing bunker shots. I know if you keep it simple when you get in a bunker you will get out of the bunkers with better control and consistency.
1. Put the ball forward in your stance and have a little more weight on your front foot. Having the ball forward in your stance will make it easier for the club to bounce out of the sand. As Bob Vokey (Titliest wedge designer) says “Bounce is your friend”
2. Weak grip. Having the leading edge of the clubface pointing at the hole or slightly right of the pin (left if left handed) is key. Having a weak top hand will help you: 1. keep your hands behind the ball at address 2. keep the club open or slightly right of target and allow you to make a full swing without the club releasing and generating too much speed.
3. Follow through. Make a full swing! Thump the sand (you want to hear the thud or slap of the club hitting the sand…this is the bounce I talked about earlier) and follow through and hold the finish like any other shot.
Next step comes practice. Play around with these simple ideas and see what works for you. For example, a shorter shot may require more foot flare. Keep practicing these fundamentals, trust the process and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to hit great bunker shots like the best players in the world.
If you’d like to sharpen your short game and save more shots during your round book a lesson at Michaellonggolf.com