Bunkers (or sand traps) are shallow pits filled with sand and generally incorporating a raised lip or barrier, from which the ball is more difficult to play than from grass. This means that your technique from this condition needs to be correct if you want a desirable outcome. This month we explore how we go about getting out of the sand and turning this hazard into less of one.
Golf without Bunkers and Hazards would be tame and monotonous, so would life
Before we begin, your club selection is very important when it comes to your ability to escape the bunker. Differing bounce and loft can either help and hurt your success rate. Deciding the best club can be the difference between getting up and down or just staying down in the sand.
1) CLUB FACE SQUARE TO TARGET WITH AN OPEN STANCE
The optimal trajectory out of a bunker is a shot that flies high and lands soft. One area that we can alter that will affect the trajectory of this shot is the openness of the clubface and therefore it’s loft. If we do this from a square stance (aiming at the target), we will find that the clubface is, in fact, aiming right of the target. We preferably want an open clubface but also square to the intended target. If we open (aim left) our stance we will achieve both an open, but square clubface. Our stance will also act as an influence on how open the clubface is. This effects the distance and trajectory of your shot. If we think about it, the more open equates to more left and will result in a higher and shorter traveling shot. The opposite applies to a more closed stance but all stances shall be slightly open in relation to the target line.
2) SWING ALONG YOUR BODYLINE
The biggest debate about bunker shots is whether we use the words steep or shallow in instruction. Many of us think it’s one or the other when in fact it’s both. It can also change when you are referring to the target or your body line. Since we’ve established an open stance make sure that you swing along your body line, this will appear as out-to-in path when we compare it to down the line or also called steep. So, an on-plane swing plane to the body and steep plane to the target will achieve the desired trajectory and set you up for better shallow contact.
3) DOLLAR BILL CONTACT
Try and think of something that is easy to remember when it comes to your divot pattern. Many examples I use when I am giving my pupils a bunker lesson is “Dollar Bill’, ‘Fried Egg’ or ‘Brick’. These expressions relate to a shallow divot when the clubhead enters the sand at the start of the object drawn in the sand, in this case, a dollar bill. Now we can’t draw in the sand but during your practice sessions, I would try and imagine that you are Pablo Picasso. If the clubhead enters the sand in a shallow way entering the start of the object make sure it stays in the sand until the end of the shape so that it will ensure the club goes underneath the ball. This is where the bounce of the club is an important tool in the design of a wedge. I will always encourage my students to take lots of sand and allow the bounce to avoid from digging. Practice slapping the sand with the back of the club during swings without a ball to see the effects of bounce. For more on bounce visit www.titleist.com/golf-clubs/wedges . Taking more sand will require you to maintain speed as the sand will slow down the club and affect the ability to get the ball out. Hopefully, points 2 and 3 have answered whether a bunker shot is steep or shallow or both.
4) UPPER BODY SHOT, KEEPING THE LOWER BODY QUIET
Because contact is vital to efficient bunker play, make sure that the lower body stays as quiet as it can. The hips will inevitability rotate as the shoulders rotate more but our objective is to stay very grounded. In the picture, you can see how the club is in fact ahead of the lower body and that the bounce has worked how it should. Many of you dig your feet into the sand but don’t know why. This is actually a good way of keeping your lower body quiet and can help establish the amount of sand in the bunker which could affect your ‘Dollar Bill’ sized contact technique.
5) KEEP THE LOFT ON THE CLUBFACE
Retaining the loft is very important on two levels. Firstly, it helps to obtain the high and soft trajectory which we are trying to achieve. It also maintains that the clubface remains square to the target and not your body. If you remember the body is in an open stance and aiming left of the target. Secondly, if the loft is taken off the clubface it is usually done with hands or forearms flipping and or releasing. This will cause the bounce to not be as effective as it should be resulting in the leading-edge digging. Also, if the leading-edge is introduced more contact problems shall occur. Practice balancing sand on the clubface both back and through the swing to help improve the retention of loft on the clubface. Many professionals have in fact weakened their grip down the years to help retaining loft. Either way can be effective if it is done hitting bunker shots and doesn’t creep into the rest of your game.
6) LET THE SAND HELP THE BALL OUT
To maintain speed through the shot and to obtain the high and soft result, try and spray the bunker lip and green with the sand from your divot. This sand will also promote a higher ball flight. When the sand is hit it gets pushed forwards and up propelling the ball at the same time. Often referred to as an explosion shot we want the sand to propel the ball. Always stay positive, aggressive in attacking the sand and know that the club and sand will help compliment your technique. Hopefully, this will improve your stats and get you more junk!
To check whether your wedges are right for you
visit www.titleist.com/golf-clubs/wedges or to schedule a wedge
fitting email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information contact the pro shop at (631) 751-0585.