Here we are going to look at how to create the correct set up position to play great splash shots from a greenside bunker.
When faced with a shot from a greenside bunker the priority with this shot is to create height rather than distance. You need to play a high shot that will land softly on the green and stop. In order to do this, take your sand iron. We are going to add a little more loft, or club face angle, to this club so rotate the handle of the club over to the right so that the name on the grip or your grip guide is right of centre. Place your hands on to the handle. It is really important that you rotate the handle to open the club face and add more loft to the club and then place your hands on to the club because if you do it the other way around, you hold and then rotate your hands and the handle to the right, effectively you have not added any more loft to the club face. As you play the shot your hands will rotate back to the position that they began in and so will the club face and as you held the club with a standard loft on the face initially, you will present this back to the ball. Rotate the club face open to add more loft and then hold the handle.
You will now notice that the club face is aiming to the right more than usual, but you need to aim the club face at the target to play the shot towards the target. To do this you will need to rotate your feet to the left until the club face aims at the target. If you drew a line across your toes, it will actually be pointing to the left of the target but this is to allow you to aim the club face directly at the target.
Take up your stance so that your feet are shoulder width apart and play the ball from the middle of your stance. Hold slightly lower down on the handle to give you a little more control over the club head. Keep your weight even between both your right and left foot. Wriggle your feet into the sand. This will lower you into the sand and encourage the club head to slide under the ball through the sand. Secondly, it will provide you with a firm base to play from and thirdly, it will allow you to get a feel for the surface that you are about to play from.
Now you are ready to play your shot. Swing the club away from the ball, along the target line and hinge your wrists to create a right angle fairly instantly between your left arm and the club shaft. You only need to swing to between waist and chest high for shorter shots and make a full swing for longer bunker shots. Swing away from the ball, hinging your wrists early during the movement and allow the club shaft to tilt backwards, or to the right as you look at it. This position will give you a good angle to swing the club head down towards the sand at. Aim to strike the sand not the ball. Look to strike the sand two inches before the ball and allow the club to enter the sand and take a shallow divot of sand as the face slides under the ball.
Keep the club head moving through the sand and into the follow through where you should look to finish with a club head position higher than the flag. Allow your body to rotate left as you swing the club head down towards the sand and you should also notice on the follow through that your body is facing the target, your weight is slightly more on your left side and that your right heel is up from the surface. Aim to swing the club head through the sand at a speed where the sand lands on the green and this will help you to control the distance of the shot. As the sand is hit from the bunker, it will force the ball upwards and out over the bunker lip and the ball will land softly on the green.
Try this out on the course the next time you play and you will improve your bunker play and save yourself plenty of shots around the green.