Being able to play golf shots from varying sand conditions is a valuable skill for any golfer to have.
The different conditions of either soft sand or hard soft require two very different approaches and applying the correct technique to the relevant sand condition will produce some excellent results and really help you to lower your scores.
Initially, when you are preparing to play your sand shot, wriggle your feet into the sand. Doing this will allow you to feel what the texture of the sand you are about to play from is like. If you find a lot of resistance to you wriggling your feet, then the sand is playing hard and with resistance to anything entering the surface. If you sink into the sand with ease, there is little surface resistance and the sand is playing soft.
With soft sand providing little resistance, the club head will be able to easily move through the sand, but the club head must approach the sand and ball at a shallow angle as too steep an angle of attack towards the ball in this situation will see the club head digging in too deeply into the sand and not moving the ball forward very much. To play from this situation and achieve a shallow angle of attack, play the ball from the middle of your feet with your weight even. Open the club by rotating the handle to the right and then holding. Now re-aim the club face at the target by rotating your feet to the left of the target. Opening the club face will allow you to use the bounce of the club to rebound the club head from the sand. Place an alignment pole to your right (for right handed golfers) and parallel to the target line. As you play the shot, move the club head along the target line and then hinge your wrists so that the club head moves over the pole. Work on swinging the club head back down by rotating your body to the left of the target and strike the sand two inches before the ball, sliding the club head through the sand and under the ball. Complete your swing by finishing with your body aiming left of the target and the club head higher than the flag.
To play from hard sand, the club head will need to be swung more vertically down towards the sand to help the club head dig into it. Play the ball left of centre in your stance and place more weight on your left side. Keep the club face square to the target and your feet alignment parallel to the target line. Work on swinging the club head up more so that if you use the pole on the floor to the right of you, the club head does not cross the pole this time. Create more height in the club head by hinging your wrists and then swing steeply down two inches before the ball, aggressively attacking the sand with the leading edge of the club face. Hit the sand and then rotate your body towards the target, again finishing with the club head above the flag and your body turned to the left of the target.
Apply these principles the next time you are caught in the sand and you will see you not only escape from the sand first time, but you finish close with a chance of holing the putt!