There are a number of ways players can vary the distance they hit shots from a greenside bunker. Players can change their length of swing, the amount of sand they take and the club they use to alter the amount of distance and back spin imparted on the ball.
First, let us set out the basic technique required to successfully escape from a greenside bunker.
Standard bunker shot technique
- Open the blade of your club, usually a sand or lob wedge. The higher you want the ball to travel, the more the club face should be opened.
- Once the club face has been opened, take your grip. Don’t grip the handle then open; this will just twist the hands at address.
- Grip the club slightly down the handle and hold the club firmly with the back two fingers of the top hand to help keep the club face open through impact.
- Firstly, take a square set up to the target line, with the ball slightly forward in the stance and the club face aimed right of the target.
- Then move the left foot, hips and body left until the leading edge of the club face points at the target.
- The swing should be made along the body line, hinging the wrists upwards slightly sooner than normal. This will help a player enter the sand just before the ball on the down swing.
- Enter the sand an inch before the ball and skim beneath the ball, lifting the ball out on a carpet of sand.
- Keep up the acceleration and complete the follow through in a full finish position, facing the target.
Using this technique, the most direct way to vary the distance of sand shots is to use clubs with different lofts. Using the above technique with a lob wedge, sand wedge or gap wedge will produce three distinctive distances, assuming swing length and amount of sand taken were the same.
Another way for golfers to hit different distances out of a greenside bunker is to vary the amount of sand they take. The less sand a player takes when hitting a bunker shot, the more back spin will be generated. However, the less sand a player takes, the cleaner the contact with the ball will be. This brings about the possibility of a thin or sculled shot.
An effective way to vary distance whilst maintaining the amount of sand taken is to alter the club head speed. The faster a player swings, the further the ball will go. However, a solid technique should not be sacrificed in favour of a faster swing. The best way to vary the distance of shots from bunkers is a combination of all these things.