Fatting bunker shots and leaving them in the sand can wreck a good score and help doubt invade a player’s mind.
Doubt after hitting a fat bunker shot is not uncommon or surprising as many golfers are unsure what causes it. Fat bunker shots are not the same as a fatted iron shot from the fairway because unlike grass, players need to hit behind the ball in sand. This often confuses players so it’s important to understand why golfers need to enter into the sand first on a standard splash bunker shot rather than striking the ball cleanly. To achieve control over the ball, players should swing the club into the sand just before the ball (about one to two inches) and leave the sand just after (again about one to two inches). This sliding of the club underneath the ball causes the ball to leave the bunker on a carpet of sand. The club face doesn’t actually directly contact the ball at any time; it’s maintaining the same amount of sand between the club and ball which produces consistent shots. If a player takes too much sand, the amount of power imparted on the ball at impact will be drastically reduced.
The rake drill
To help avoid golfers hitting the bunker shots fat they can use the rake drill. The rake drill stops players entering the sand too early and should provide golfers with a more consistent strike.
1. Place the rake handle on the ground 90 degrees to the target, about six inches behind the ball. If a rake is not available, another piece of wood (or something you don’t mind being damaged) will suffice.
2. The point of the drill is to swing through the ball without striking the rake. If the player strikes the rake they will know they are trying to enter the sand too early.
3. To help strike down and through the ball, golfers should place about 60% of their body weight on the front foot. By keeping the weight forward throughout the swing, players can avoid striking the sand too far behind the ball.
4. If the golfer is successful at avoiding the rake and keeping the weight forward they should produce dollar sized divots between one and two inches deep and send the ball flying higher with more speed out of the bunker and on to the green.
Avoiding fat shots is important for golfers especially out of bunkers because it causes a loss of power and control through the ball. To help avoid this, golfers should keep their weight forward though the swing and use the rake drill. These two things can help make the fat bunker shot a thing of the past.