The simple solution
One of the reasons that players find the long bunker shot so hard is that they unnecessarily complicate things. Using your sand wedge and trying to take less sand is a recipe for disaster – get it slightly wrong and you’ll thin the ball way over the back. So, to hit the ball further, just as with any other shot in the game, simply take more club. In this instance, I’m using the same basic set-up and swing that I’d use for a normal splash shot, aiming to strike the sand two inches beneath the ball. However, I’m going to use my 8-iron. This will provide the extra distance I’m looking for without the risk of a thin contact
Golf is a game of distance and direction. For many of you, opening up your stance and aiming a long way left will be the natural way to play this shot, but why aim your body in the wrong direction? I like my pupils to set a neutral address with the ball forward in the stance. Aim to hit the sand two inches beneath the ball and you’ll get the flight and control you’re looking for. This is by far the easiest way to find consistency from sand.
Splash shot drill
The key to playing a good splash shot, no matter which club you’re using, is to take
the right amount of sand every time. To help groove consistency, try this drill. Take
a tee peg and push it into the sand so that your ball is sitting just above the level of
the bunker, as I’ve done here. The aim is to drive the tee out as well as the ball by striking the tee halfway up. If you get this right, you’ll be striking the sand two inches beneath the ball, which is spot on. If you’re serious about improving your bunker play, this drill is a great way to find consistency. The more you practise it, the better your feel from sand will be, and you’ll have more shots in your armoury to call upon.
If you take one thing away from this piece, let it be that you must practise this shot. If you have a practice bunker at your home club, here’s a great way to use it. Place a handful of balls in three separate positions in the bunker. Take a selection of clubs in with you – I have my lob wedge, pitching wedge, 8-iron and 6-iron – and use different clubs to hit to different targets. Crucially, keep the technique exactly the same in each position, using different clubs to determine distance. You’ll start to develop an invaluable feel for the flight and roll on offer from each club.