One of the more overused phrases in hitting bunker shots is that it is the easiest shot in golf because you don’t need to hit the ball. In the case of the greenside bunker shot, this is true.
When I teach students how to hit bunker shots, Rule No. 1 is “hit the bunker first." Hitting the ball first usually results in the ball flying over the green at nose height and ending up in another area code!
Rule No. 2 is “get the ball out in one shot”. It would be great to hit the ball six inches from the hole but leaving it in the bunker just means that you need to try to get it out again.
Let’s look at how to obey both of the above rules. First, you need a sand wedge. The sand wedge is designed to bounce through the sand rather than dig in. Set yourself up open to the line of the shot and practice hitting sand out of the practice bunker. That’s right, get used to the feeling of hitting a large dollop of sand out of the bunker. I will sometimes draw a small circle in the sand and ask my student to hit the circle out of the bunker.
Once you are comfortable hitting the sand out, place a ball in the middle of your circle and hit the circle out again. The ball will fly out with the sand. You will notice as you practice this shot that the swing follows the line of your body and does not go towards the target. If you swing towards the target, more often than not you will fail the Rule No. 2 test.
For more help with bunker play, contact me or your local PGA professional.
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.