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10 Tour Pro Bunker Play Tips
Picture the shot you want to play. Pick a spot a couple of inches behind the ball, then forget about the ball and just concentrate on hitting that spot and accelerating through it. Often people do pick the spot, but they then decelerate into the ball to make sure that they hit that spot. Remember to accelerate!
You need to use the bounce correctly – you mustn’t get the leading edge entering the sand with lots of shaft lean. Another good visual is for your divot to run as far behind the ball as it does in front.
Sixty degrees of loft is more than enough to get the ball out. You’ve just got to understand how to return the club to the ball correctly. I’d stand a bit wider and have my hands slightly behind the ball at address so I’m using the bounce. You don’t want the leading edge driving into the sand. And keep the speed up.
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In practice, I draw a box around the ball, about four inches before it and four inches after it, and just try to hit that box, instead of trying to focus on just behind the ball, or two inches behind it. I then imagine that box out on the course. Make sure you hit sand first and make it roll like a putt.
When I’m practising, I’ll draw a line in the sand with my club and try to hit that line, so my entry point is consistent. That guarantees the strike. The key part to being a good bunker player is to take a similar amount of sand every time, and this line exercise will help you to consistently find that ideal strike point.
With all the great bunker players, you don’t even need to see where the shot has finished because you know from the sound. Make that nice thud using the bounce – this increases the margin for error. To use the bounce, open the face and feel like the clubhead passes your hands a little earlier through the shot.
The set-up is key to your ability to be able to play the bunker shot well. You create added loft on the club by leaning the shaft back at address, rather than pointing the face to the right of your target. Once you have leaned the shaft back, creating extra loft, you can then position your body, setting up with the butt of the club pointing directly at your belt. A great drill is to put sand on the face of your wedge at address. Look to keep that sand on the face as long as possible as you take the club back, getting the feeling that you are throwing the sand over your right shoulder.
Start by opening the face as much as you want and get your hands aiming towards your right shoulder at address – you do not want the shaft leaning forward. Then just take as much sand as you can. As long as you hit the sand before the ball with an open face, the ball will come out.
In the bunker, lower body stability is probably the most important thing. Having good knee flex and maintaining knee flex throughout the entire bunker shot will help maintain more solid contact and help you control the distance.
The basic greenside splash shot is very similar to the flop shot in the setup. So I’d advise a wider base, knees forward and probably a little bit more 60-40 on your left side. In the bunker as well I prefer to use the bounce of my wedge to play the shot so I like to use a shallow angle of attack and feel like the club head is being casted in the downswing.
Always take sand. Rather take more sand than not enough, hitting thin bunkers shots is not any good. But at the same time you need a good technique so you don’t leave it in the bunker. A lot of amateurs leave it in the trap and start getting closer and closer to the ball and then it’s a dangerous game.
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