When you see the best golfers in the world on television hit bunker shots, their golf swings seem so easy and smooth like they’re not even in a hazard. Their swing in the bunker is similar to their regular full swing in one regard – they create speed with the clubhead. Use clubhead speed to create spin on the golf ball even without the ball ever touching the clubface. The goal is to make the sand push the golf ball up and out of the bunker.
I see too many swings where the clubhead decelerates through the sand. Many of my students improve their overall swing by learning how to accelerate the clubhead in the bunkers. Let me teach you all about the process, setup, and how to swing the golf club properly out of a sand trap.
How to Approach Your Bunker Shot
When I sigh after I hit my golf ball in the bunker is not because I have to hit it out of the bunker, it’s me hoping I don’t get a bad lie in the bunker. I’m hoping it’s a good lie (meaning it’s not plugged), the sand is in good condition (raked daily and soft), and I’m on level ground or on an upward lie.
Depending on the distance to the hole and how much green I have to work with to the hole, I am confident enough in my bunker game that I will have a good chance to get up and down from there. It’s all about clubhead speed.
Decide Your Loft
Some players these days have multiple wedges like a 56 degree wedge and a 60 degree wedge. You situation will decide how much carry and backspin you want on your golf ball and how you want it to come out of the bunker.
One fault I have seen many times over are golfers not opening the clubface enough. You have to learn how to use that bounce on the bottom of your wedge so you don’t get too deep into the sand and create a higher ball trajectory.
Choke Down on Your Wedge
You need to create clubhead speed so let’s do so with a shorter club. This will help you have your clubhead catch up to your hands earlier at impact.
Good Ball Position
Make sure your ball is forward of center in your stance. This will help you hit the sand first, give your clubhead time to create loft and release your clubhead properly. If it is centered, you may make contact with the golf ball instead of the sand and your leading edge may dig into the sand instead of your bounce (bottom of club) gliding through the sand.
Widen Your Stance
We want to keep our lower body stable since we dug in our feet into the sand to feel secure and to sink down just a bit.
Set Up Hands Lower
We want to flatten your swing right from the setup. With the shaft more flat, you will be able to swing more flatter which means we can take advantage of the bounce.
Set Up Open to Your Target
We want to feel like we will cut across the ball (outside-in) on the way down but it will feel easier if you are to set up a bit open so your body alignment and club path is now aiming to the side that you have opened up to. Many golfers have different stances in the bunker but make sure you set up in a way you can feel you can come more from the outside path rather than the inside path (steep).
Coil Your Upper Body
We want to keep our lower body stable so in order to create clubhead speed and momentum, we need the shoulders and torso to rotate. Many players use their wrists to help get the ball out but we need to make the sand explode out so it can help push the ball out. You will be surprised how high your golf ball will travel by creating faster clubhead speed yet not that far. Note: Pay attention to your grip strength. Don’t squeeze the wedge too tight!
Use a Good Tempo and Hold Follow Through
If you are all set up properly and have the correct wedge, there are ways to make consistent contact with the sand and ways we can control the distance. It’s not so much about a shorter swing. It’s more about your tempo. You can have two swings with the same length but if one is a slower tempo, the ball will go a shorter distance.
Tempo can also be maintained by holding your follow through. SInce we are keeping our lower body stable with little movement, we still need to hold your follow through just like any good finish. Forgetting to finish your swing will make you decelerate more than you think.
Here are some additional simple bunker shot tips to provide you with a consistent approach.