By Doug Hammer, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
Get out of the bunker...every time!!
Getting out of a bunker is priority #1 during your round.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Bunkers are a source of frustration for many golfers from all over. I have good news for all of you who struggle in the bunkers, you don't have to!! Many of us go into a bunker and try to do something completely off the beaten path compared to your comfortable golf swing. Maybe it was a tip from a friend who is a good bunker player or a new hot tip. Either way, you may be making things more difficult.

What is the goal of a bunker shot? In its simplest form, get out in 1 try. A more advanced goal, get close enough you can 1 putt. That is it. Most of us would sell our soul to be able to do 1 or the other, and consequently try anything that remotely makes sense. I know, I see it daily, and was one of those golfers about 20 years ago.

Bunkers do not have to be mystifying. Try to think of a bunker as a controlled fat shot. How many times in your last round or practice session did you hit one a little chunky (behind the ball) when you didn't mean to? It happens, all we have to do is embrace it in the bunker.

For a standard greenside bunker shot of appx. 15 yards, it is required that you strike the sand before the ball. It is also required that the club stays in the sand past the ball and exits well after where the ball lies. This is the part that is missed by most. I see too much emphasis on hitting the sand behind the ball. I see players making too steep of a swing and falling back on their back foot as they try to lift the ball out of the sand. Sound familiar?

Time to stop all those bad habits. Let's start by making sure you understand that you should NOT change your swing in any way, shape, or form when hitting a shot from the bunker. Again, you should NOT change your swing in a bunker. Use your comfortable swing and rhythm and work on making pre-swing adjustments.

In order to hit the sand first, two pre swing adjustments are required:

  • 1. Move the ball slightly forward (toward your lead foot) at address.
  • 2. Dig your feet into the sand and get lower These 2 adjustments should make it very easy for your club to strike the sand before the ball, you should not make hitting behind the ball a goal for your swing, hence NOT changing your swing!

    Now to further guarantee a DOWNWARD strike into the sand and avoid trying to lift the ball out, we make a final pre-swing adjustment. Lean your spine toward the target to match the forward lean of your golf club. You should feel a majority of your weight go to your lead foot at this time. Keep your spine, and thus your weight, leaning forward throughout the golf swing. Trust the loft of your club to get the ball out, you do not need to lift it. Even on the high lips, the loft of your club combined with good speed will create lift, you do not need to help out in any way!!

    Good luck with this new and simpler bunker technique. I look forward to seeing your bunker game in play at Troon North soon!

    Doug Hammer * Director of Instruction * Troon North Golf Club
    p 480-585-5300 ext. 251 * f 480-585-5161
    10320 E Dynamite Blvd. * Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Managed by Troon Golf
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