Symptom: Your greenside bunker play is not good — you fear the sand shot. You would rather play any other shot besides a bunker shot. For you it’s a sandy pit of gloom and despair. You have no idea how some people always seem to play their bunker shots so easily…
Overview: Focus on making a high finish as you follow through on your greenside bunker shot. To do this you will need to get your clubhead through the sand rather than letting your club get stuck in the sand.
Why it works: You are probably leaving the ball in the sand because your motion is not aggressive enough through the hitting zone. On an explosion shot from the greenside bunker, you have to smack the sand pretty hard and keep the clubhead moving to make the ball come out! When you do, you will put sand on the green too!
High Finishes for Bunker Shots
Have a look at this compilation video of the Top 10 Greenside Bunker shots on the PGA Tour. The clubhead finishes above the waist on all but two of these shots (#4, Mickelson, from a plugged lie, and #1, Azinger, where he had no green to work with, green sloping away, 1993 Memorial on the line, etc. It deserves to be #1 because it was so very difficult. But it is the exception, not the rule.) Have a look:
A handy visualization that works on the golf course is to focus on the finish, and make sure you end up there. Rehearse this a few times before you play your bunker shot. Visualize the sort of swing you will need to make in order to have a high finish with your explosion shot. Recognize that to get to your ideal finish you will need to rotate through the ball aggressively with your lower body. The sand will offer some extra resistance that can stop an arms-only swing.
So don’t stick your clubhead in the sand and leave it there – keep it moving!
And finally, please don’t try to play the perfect bunker shot. The most important thing about a sand shot is that your next shot be struck with your putter (or off a tee, should you hole out).
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