Spending too much time on the beach?
Hitting a successful greenside bunker shot is all about proper setup and a solid finish. Here are some tips for some different bunker situations: — Standard bunker shot: Set up is the most important. Ball position is like a driver – off your front heel. Dig your feet into the sand – this helps you to set up slightly lower than the ball. The most common thing I hear with bunker shots is you must look one inch behind the ball. Looking one inch behind the ball can create a digging type swing, taking too much sand and leaving the ball in the bunker.
I think it is important to have a “soft eye” as you look at the ball. Try not to focus on one particular spot. With proper ball position, using a sand wedge or a lob wedge, it is possible to execute a good shot without being so focused on hitting the sand exactly one inch behind the ball. I like to use the analogy of a fried egg. When you practice, draw a small circle around your golf ball. The yolk is the ball and the circle is the white part of the egg. The idea is to try to get the whole egg out of the bunker. It is not necessary to set up with an open clubface for all bunker shots. A standard 56-degree wedge will work just fine with a proper set up and a complete finish. — Ball lands in the front lip/upslope of the bunker: Set up with the ball in the middle of your stance. Unlike the other types of bunkers shots, there is NO follow through here. Take a backswing and be aggressive with your downswing at the ball. The ball will pop right out of the bunker onto the green.
— Ball lands on the downslope of the backside of the bunker: This shot requires lots of practice. Ball position is slightly towards your back foot. Backswing needs to be steep. Try to create more of a V-shape with your swing. Leave the clubface square when you set up. Swing through with a good finish. — Ball lands in deep greenside bunker with a high lip in front of you: Use a lob wedge if you have one. If not, a sand wedge is fine. Ball position is forward, like your driver. Open the face of the club as much as you can. Your backswing should be a V-shape, taking the club slightly on an outside swing path. Be sure to complete your swing with a full finish. Your belt buckle should be facing the target.
Set aside time to practice your bunker shots. You will gain confidence and improve your overall swing. Alice Plain is the head golf professional at the Eagle Ranch Golf Club. She can be reached at (70) 328-2882, ext. 5.Vail, Colorado