The Bunker Shot
It would be a complete understatement to say that golfers often struggle in the sand. In fact, it’s often a way of life for golfers, young and old, amateurs or professionals, it doesn’t matter. In a typical, three-round tournament, good golfers will only hit two or three bunker shots a round, so they often don't worry about it while practicing. The lie and necessary adjustments that need to be made on a bunker shot can be the downfall of an otherwise solid round.
Hitting shots out the bunker can be mentally debilitating if things go poorly and often lend a hand in destroying entire rounds in the blink of an eye. If you’ve been struggling to consistently hit a good ball out of the bunker, try these CoachUp tips to take your game to another level.
Change Your Setup
Go with an open stance on this one -- your clubface should change a little depending on how deep the ball is buried. If it's not buried at all, your clubface should be extremely open. However, if it's plugged, closing the clubface will prevent your club from skipping on the ground. Now, bury your feet a little to have a little more grip, with the ball should be lined up off the heel of your front foot. Bend your knees slightly and keep your weight evenly distributed if you’re on a flat lie. If you're hitting up a hill, keep your weight on your back foot or you’ll take too much sand. If you're hitting on an uphill lie, keep your weight on your front foot so that you don’t skull the ball.
Don’t Hit the Ball
Believe it or not, you’re not hitting the golf ball at all. You’re going to hit the sand so it can carry the ball to the green. To do this, you’ll need to take a decent amount of sand, which will depend on how plugged the ball is. Your divot in the sand should be about 8 inches long, ultimately. If you were to draw a circle around the ball about the size of your hand, all of it should be gone following the swing. Try thinking about getting as much of that sand on the green.
Lead With Your Hands
Typically, there are two different shots depending on your lie; If the ball is not plugged, the most important thing you can remember is to follow through with your swing, even accelerating at the end. Get your hands up to shoulder height and never let your wrists break during on the follow through, just like a hinge-and-hold chip. If you do have a plugged shot, you won’t be able to get underneath it and finish with a high swing. Therefore, you’re going to want to hit just behind the ball and make it stick in the ground. Your hands should always be ahead of the club and accelerating to contact.
(Related: Read about hitting flop shots here.)
Although it might be annoying to take time out of your routine to intentionally practice bunker shots, give it a try next time. Despite only using the shot once or twice a round, those shots have a way of becoming incredibly important. The rhythm required to hit out of the sand isn’t something you’ll pick up without practice, so spend some time on it! It may seem frustrating at first, but soon enough, you’ll be feeling like a much happier golfer!
If you’re still having trouble with your bunker shots, consider looking into one of CoachUp’s private trainers. CoachUp has a slew of accomplished trainers for any age or skill level just waiting to help you with your game. So, the next time you end up looking like you went to the beach, not the course, go with CoachUp and they’ll set you straight. What are you waiting for?