How to Hit Greenside and Fairway Bunker Shots
Many low handicap and professional players are barely fazed when they hit their ball in the bunker. In fact, there are times they would rather have their ball in a bunker rather than the rough. While the bunker shot is one of the most stressful shots in golf, setting up correctly will make it much easier. It has been said the bunker shot is the easiest shot in golf since you don’t even hit the ball.
Many players begin a bunker shot by setting up incorrectly or using the wrong equipment. The bunker shot is complicated by players unsure if they should hit the ball or sand. In a greenside bunker, begin with your feet approximately shoulder width and slightly open to the target line. The target line is an imaginary line that runs through the golf ball toward the target. Bend your knees slightly and bend at your waist. Allow your arms to hang tension free with a relaxed grip. Position the ball in approximately the middle to slightly forward in your stance. Take a solid stance by digging your feet into the sand. This keeps your body stable and prevents your feet from slipping throughout the swing.
Select a lofted wedge, somewhere between 54 and 64 degrees. Higher degrees of bounce and/or a wider sole will make it easier to explode the ball from the sand. Slightly open the clubface so the sole of the club to glide through the sand instead of digging into the sand with the leading edge. Try to maintain the open clubface throughout the swing and follow through. The swing will be initiated by the arms and club swinging back. Accelerate through the shot so you hear a “thump” of the club head hitting the sand. Hit approximately 2-3 inches behind the ball and accelerate through to a high finish. One of the biggest faults is the lack of a follow through. Allow your hands to finish high to insure you accelerate through the sand and golf ball.
Players can learn to be successful from a fairway bunker by improving their set up and swing fundamentals. Players should take a set up similar to a full swing. Begin by digging your feet into the sand and create a stable position with their lower body. A good set up will prevent any unnecessary lateral movements that lead to a fat shot. Unlike a greenside bunker, players must hit the ball first. The shot should produce a “click” while hitting down on the ball rather than a “thump” from the sand. Hitting the shot correctly will put additional spin on the ball so take at least one additional club. Also, position your hands lower on the grip for more control. Club selection is also important. Often it can be difficult to launch the ball high enough to clear the lip of a bunker. Therefore, select a club with enough loft while avoiding long irons and fairway woods from a fairway bunker. Similar to the greenside bunker, always accelerate through the shot. Follow these tips and the bunker will become a much easier and more successful shot.