The bunker shot is often misunderstood by golfer’s who find it difficult to escape the “dreaded” bunker. If a golfer understands the relationship of the “leading edge” and the “bounce” on a sand wedge, the task becomes manageable and can lead to an increase in confidence and execution of the shot.
Two of the most common mistake’s are (1) look at the ball during the swing and (2) to have the club enter the sand with the leading edge. If the golfer looks at the ball, the chances are quite high that the club will hit the ball or enter the sand too close to the ball, causing a thinned shot that will result in the ball “flying” over the green. The golfer should keep his/her eyes on a spot several inches “behind” the ball where the club should enter the sand. With a greenside bunker shot, the club should never hit the ball, the target is ALLWAYS the sand.
The second common mistake is for the club to enter the sand with the leading edge. This is what we call a “digger” shot. In most cases, the “digger” bunker swing will cause the club to get stuck in the sand and will likely leave the ball in the bunker as well. For the bunker shot to be successful, the “bounce” of the club should enter the sand and the bounce will create a “blanket” of sand for the ball to “ride” up and out of the bunker. To execute this shot, the golfer must take the club back “outside” the target line while OPENING the clubface as much as possible. The takeaway should feel like you are “lifting” the club up and not “sweeping” it back as you would on a normal fairway shot. It will feel like a very narrow backswing. The club should then be “splashed” down into the sand with the “bounce” of the club entering the sand.
If you practice this method, you will increase your skill set and enjoy bunker play like never before. Once you learn the technique you can experiment with various ball positions, stances, and other variations to change the flight of the ball. You will never again be afraid of a bunker shot!