The bane of many amateur golfers is a greenside bunker shot. They require a delicate touch to keep the ball on the green. You also need to be bold enough to strike the ball and sand confidently so that the ball escapes the bunker first time of asking.
Most players will be delighted to get the ball out of the bunker in any way possible. One of the most fearsome shots that one can face is a greenside bunker shot when there is an equally daunting hazard on the other side of the green.
One of the reasons that such a high level of fear exists around these types of shots is because, for the most part, amateur players do not really practice their bunker shots. While they may go to the driving range and pound balls as far as they can with their driver, not enough people spend time on the practice green. When they do venture over, it is usually to hit a few chip shots and practice some putting for a few minutes.
You can receive all of the instruction tips in the world, but unless you put them into practice off the golf course, you will only be applying band-aids to your game. Here are three tips that will help you get out of a greenside bunker in one shot.
1. Have the ball further up in your stance
Tour professionals will have the ball near to their leading foot when hitting bunker shots, but you do not need to go to these extremes. Instead, place the ball a couple of inches ahead of the center of your stance.
This allows there to be more of the trailing edge of the club head to be exposed. This will slice through the sand easier, allowing you to maintain the loft of the club throughout the swing. That will ensure that you get the ball over the lip of the bunker.
Having the ball in the center of your stance will make you prone to digging into the sand, which is what often contributes to leaving the ball in the bunker. Place more weight on your front foot and dig your feet into the sand to give yourself a stable base.
2. Utilize the loft of the club
Most people will use their sand wedge when playing out of greenside bunkers. But if it is a particularly high lip, they may go for a club with even more loft.
Amateurs tend to not use the loft of their club very well. Before setting up for your shoot, you want to grip the club with your top hand, twist a quarter turn to the right and then take your full grip with the club in this position. This stops you from twisting the club shut on impact.
3. Commit to your swing
Fear is often the very thing that keeps amateur players from escaping the greenside bunker at the first time of asking. They tentatively flick at the ball, not getting the necessary club speed to get the ball out of the hazard.
There is a large margin of error with bunker shots if you commit to the swing. Hit anywhere from one to four inches behind the ball and into the sand. Then you’ll have your ball sailing towards the green.
You need to swing the club to about shoulder height on both your backswing and follow through, hitting the sand behind the ball and trusting the loft to do the work for you.
Practice and practice some more
When you practice greenside bunker shots enough, you will realize how straightforward they actually are. When you are faced with one of these shots on the course, you will relish the opportunity to show off your skills and leave your playing partners in awe.
The fundamentals are key but straightforward. Dig into the sand with your feet, place more weight on your lead foot, open up the loft of your club and take a shoulder length swing. Commit powerfully through impact.
— Andrew O’Malley