Bunker shots are not the easiest shots at the best of times but what happens when the ball is near the back lip of the bunker? Find out with this tip.
The first rule of any bunker shot is to get the ball out - make sure not to play two shots from the bunker! Good course management states that a round of golf is played over 18 holes and not just the shot in front of you. Sometimes medicine needs to be taken and in this situation a shot sideways and back into play will have to be considered. However, if we want to attempt the shot there are some points to consider.
Is there enough room to swing the club back? This may not be a normal backswing but the shot needs to have some backswing to generate power. If the bunker lip is close to the ball, the backswing and downswing will need to be steeper and more upright than normal which will cause the ball to fly lower and roll further when it lands.
Is the ball on a downhill slope? Most bunkers will slope from the edges to the centre of the bunker. If there is a downhill slope then the ball will again fly lower and roll further.
How far is it to the green? Remember that because of the above two points the ball will not carry in the air for a long distance and so there needs to be room outside of the bunker for the ball to roll along the floor.
With these points in mind, here is how to play the shot. Firstly, set up to the ball differently than to a normal bunker shot. The ball is on a downward slope and the lip of the bunker is very close so we need the club head to lift up away from the ball and come down into the ball very steeply. To achieve this, take the most lofted club in the bag, either a lob wedge or sand iron. A high lofted club is needed because the shot will shoot out low and so requires as much height as possible to clear the front lip of the bunker. Position the ball in the back half of the stance and lean forwards to position the body weight so that it is approximately 60-70% on the front foot. This sets the swing up to be much steeper and more downwards through the swing action. Make sure that the feet are aimed at the target rather than open to the target (right for right handed golfers and left for left handed golfers) but keep the face of the golf club open to the target (pointing to the right for right handed golfers and left for left handed golfers). This gains as much loft as we can to get the ball as high as possible, as quickly as possible.
To execute the shot, pick the club up steeply with the wrists, hinging them fully, and keep the body weight on the front foot. Then hit hard and downwards into the sand approximately two inches behind as aggressively as possible. Keep the golf club low through impact and the follow through, making sure that the face of the club is held by the hands so that it is always pointing at the sky throughout the entire shot. The tendency is to lift the ball up and so driving the club low keeps the club going through the sand and out underneath the golf ball. Make sure that there is no leaning back by turning the lower body through the ball so that the feet end in a normal finish position for a golf shot with the back foot turned fully on to it's toe end.
Driving downwards and forwards through the sand is the key to making the sand lift the ball from the bunker and over the front lip on to the green. Use these thoughts to play the shot better.