In this video swing tip we are going to discuss how to improve your bunker shots and stop you leaving the golf ball in the sand.
When playing an effective bunker shot, you need to create height in the shot. To do this use your sand iron to play the shot with and add more loft or club face angle by opening the club face. To do this turn the handle of your golf club to the right and then place your hands on to hold the club. The club face will now have more loft but will be aiming to the right, so re-align your feet to the left until the club face once again aims towards the target. Wriggle your feet into the sand as this will allow you to test the surface conditions, get a stable base to play the shot from and also lower yourself down into the surface to encourage the club head to slide under the surface and the ball to generate height.
Play the ball from the centre of your stance and keep your weight even during your set up and backswing. Hinge your wrists to create an L shape between your left arm and the club shaft on your backswing and then splash the club head into the sand about two inches before the ball. The club head will slide through the sand under the ball and force the ball upwards. As you do this, rotate your body to the left of the target and keep the club head moving so that it exits the sand and finishes in a high position, with you rotated towards or even left of the target and with your right heel up from the sand.
If you are leaving the ball in the sand, initially listen to the sound of the shot as you are playing it. Do you hear the club head hit the sand or do you hear the club head hit the ball? You should not hear the club head hit the ball as there is no contact between the club head and ball during this shot. If the club head is striking the ball first, you will not generate enough height to get the ball up over the bunker lip and you will hit the ball straight into the face of the bunker, leaving the ball in the bunker.
To help you improve this, draw a line in the sand directly away from you and then push the butt end of the club into the sand on the left of this line (for right handed golfers) so that it leaves a hole about two inches to the left of the line. Now take up the address position that we discussed before and work on swinging the golf club so that the club head strikes the sand on the line and then creates a divot through the hole. This will help you if you are taking too much sand before the ball as this would also produce a shot that will get left in the bunker as the club head will lose speed as it hits the sand and if it is hitting the sand too early, the club head will have transferred all its speed to the sand before the ball and therefore will not have any speed left to move the sand from under the ball quickly enough to get the ball out of the bunker.
If you are striking the line accurately but still leaving the ball in the bunker, check your follow through club head height is a mirror image of the height of the club head on your backswing. You need to make sure that your club head accelerates through the sand as you play the shot to ensure that enough speed is transferred to the sand and then the ball to get the ball out of the bunker.
Work on ensuring the club head finishes above the flag on your follow through, rather than it finishing low to the sand because you are slowing down as you strike the sand.