Don’t you wish you could hit those stop-on-a-dime bunker shots like the pros? Maybe you can. It does, however, require an aggressive mentality that many golfers can’t seem to summon when their ball is in the sand.
To generate spin, you’ve got to make an accelerating swing and hit the sand fairly close to the ball. That can be a frightening prospect, conjuring visions of skulled shots that whiz past the heads of your playing partners and end up who knows where.
Fear, of course, is the enemy of great bunker play. It fosters a tentative, please-just-let-me-get-this-out swing that fails to deliver the speed needed for spin.
If you have no trouble escaping the sand but want to improve your results – e.g. get the ball closer – it’s time to adopt the pros’ mindset. When a pro enters a bunker, he sees not danger but opportunity. He knows he can spin and control a shot from sand much better than he can from thick rough.
Do keep in mind that all lies aren’t created equal. If the sand is extra-soft, your ball is buried or nestled down, you won’t be able to impart much spin. It takes a clean lie, preferably from reasonably firm sand, to hit a high-spin blast.
Here’s how it’s done:
1. Set up with your feet and clubface more open than normal. Remember to set the clubface open, then grip the club.
2. Play the ball slightly forward of the middle of your stance.
3. Choose a spot roughly 1-1.5” behind the ball; this is where you want the club to enter.
4. Pick up the club abruptly with your hands and wrists.
5. Accelerate the clubhead into your spot and keep the clubface open on the follow-through, with your left knuckles pointing up.
A good drill is to draw a line in the sand, about 2” wide, and practice hitting the target side of the line. Do this until you can repeatedly hit the spot, then place a ball on the target edge of the line and try it. Make sure there are no golfers (or windows) on the opposite side of the green as you may well blade a few before getting the hang of it.