“Sand shots around the green have a couple of unique elements that should be understood” – David Lee
If you’ve heard a golf professional or good amateur say that a bunker shots is the easiest shot in golf, they’re telling the truth – to a point. It’s the easiest shot in golf – if – you know how to hit it correctly, but one of the spookiest if you don’t. Truthfully, it’s an easier shot than a pitch from the rough, because you can spin the ball. Pitch shots from the rough are unpredictable in carry distance and are difficult to stop. In a tournament, most professional players would prefer to be in a green side bunker than in three-inch rough.
Understanding Your Sand Shots
There are differences between sand shots, and pitches and chips, that one should know before sand shots can easily be mastered. On greenside bunker shots, we normally hit behind the ball a couple of inches. Because the club doesn’t directly strike the ball, we get less compression (or help) from the golf ball – and therefore, we need to turn the body past the flagstick in the follow-through to provide “insurance” that the ball will come of the bunker. The full rotation through the shot increases the foot-pounds of energy in the impact zone and ensures that both the ball and the sand will come out with very little effort.
In addition to the full follow-through, there is another important variation from a pitch or chip. On greenside bunker shots, we don’t want to hit the ball before we contact the sand. To ensure this, we widen the stance about an extra eight inches or so over the width we would stand for a pitch or chip. Widening the stance, will drop the bottom of the swing arc, and cause the player to hit the sand instead of the back of the ball.
The distance ones carries the ball from a bunker is a function of how much loft is on the club you choose, and how far you heave the arms and club in the back-swing. The arms should be in a state of deadfall starting down, and the rotation of the body simply “turns” the ball out of the bunker. Practice the “Gravity” golf “three-mode drill” and you’ll soon learn just how easy these shots can be.