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In this article and video, PGA pro Nick Drane shares some simple bunker shot tips and drills to help transform your game from the sand
One of the most common faults I see is where players try to help the ball out. Are you constantly catching the ball fat and leaving it in the sand? Perhaps you have a tendency to thin the ball straight through the green? Believe it or not, these two terrible results often come from the same technical root cause.
In an effort to escape the sand, golfers will often lean back to try and add as much loft to the shot as they can. They'll have too much weight on their back foot - and this can lead to a scooping action. Fat and thin strikes are card-wreckers, but get the basics right and you'll soon start to get the contact spot on and hit the ball closer to the flag.
Typically, when playing a greenside bunker shot, you're going to use the most lofted club in your bag - so depending on your wedge line-up, 56°, 58° or 60°. This is the only shot in golf where you're not actually trying to hit the ball - you're looking to make impact with the sand behind it.
Start by shuffling your feet into the sand. This is important as it lowers you into the ground, helping you to make contact just before the ball. Plus, it gives you the ideal stable base to swing from. For this reason I also like to take a nice wide stance.
Then open the face of the slightly, after which take your grip. By doing this you'll be adding bounce to the club which is exactly what you need when playing this type of shot.
Sand First, Weight Forward
Above, note how the line of the leading edge of the club is pointing towards the left toe here. The left foot is also turned out slightly, which is going to allow a fraction more weight to be set on the lead side - maybe 60/40. This is going to make it easier to turn through the shot.
Finally, the perfect ball position should be a couple of inches forward of where you'd normally have it when playing a wedge shot off the grass. This is what a good address position for a bunker shot looks like and it is worth devoting some time to grooving it in practice.
Draw A Line
If you're practising, draw a line about a club head's width inside your lead heel, behind the ball. Now you can now focus on hitting that line, not the golf ball itself.
Make a three-quarter backswing and finish with almost all of your weight towards the target. It is important that you commit to the shot here - often players decelerate towards impact and this causes the club to get stuck in the sand. So make sure that you rotate through to your finish position (this is a crucial element in how to swing a golf club) to keep the clubhead moving.
Follow these simple bunker shot tips and drills and you'll improve the quality of your bunker play in rapid time.
Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.
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