The bunker shot can be one of the scariest shots in golf for the average golfer, usually due to a mixture of a lack of confidence, technique and practice. However, like any shot, if there is an understanding of the concept of the shot and some time for good, correct practice, the shot can become fairly easy and sometimes easier than a shot from green side rough.
In the main, the success of the bunker shot depends on the set up to the golf ball and this can be achieved by using two tour sticks to get that bunker shot set position perfect every time.
Firstly, understand how to get the ball out of a bunker. This is the only shot in golf where there is no contact with the golf ball directly. When the golf ball is struck correctly on a normal shot, the ball launches fairly low and with a great deal of speed from the club face. It then rises up into the air by virtue of the backspin on the ball.
Most bunkers that we find surrounding a green are lower than the actual surface of the green and often have a high lip on them. This means that hitting a ball directly would cause the ball to go too far or launch too low and hit the bunker face staying in the bunker. What is needed is a shot that lifts the ball sharply up into the air and drops it softly a short distance away. This can be achieved by getting the club to travel through the sand underneath the golf ball and out the other side, thus sending the sand upward, taking the ball with it out of the bunker. For this to happen effectively, we need to set up to the golf ball slightly differently than we would to hit a normal shot.
Firstly, for this shot we need the sharp leading edge of the club face to pass through the sand in a nice, shallow fashion, passing underneath the golf ball rather than digging into the sand deeply, and not emerging from the other side of the ball. Turning the club face at set up, to an open position to the right for right handed golfers, increases the bounce angle of the club head which allows the sand to pass around it more freely rather than dragging it down deeper into the sand, thus achieving a shallow swing underneath the ball. From this position, if the shot is hit, the ball will come out of the bunker but to the right of the target as that is where the club face currently points.
Now, we can use a tour stick to help with the alignment. As the club face is turned to the right by approximately 10 degrees, the tour stick needs to be laid in the bunker pointing approximately 10 degrees to the left of the target. This means that the alignment of the body to the left, and the aim of the club face to the right, are approximately an equal amount. This equal relationship means that when the bunker shot is hit, along the line of the tour stick lying in the sand, the ball should come out somewhere in the middle of the two, directly in line with the target.
Using the tour stick in this way helps to practice the correct set up in the bunker, allowing great, high, soft landing bunker shots that come out of the sand each time.