Few players take golf lessons on how to get out of a bunker. But improving your bunker play is essential to becoming a good golfer. In fact, bunker play is a critical area of your game. If you really want to improve your game-and chop your golf handicap down to size-you must learn how to get out of a bunker without costing yourself strokes.
Mastering bunker play means learning how to hit the tough bunker shots you often face, such as the friend egg or the buried lie. Other tough bunker shots include the uphill lie, the downhill lie, and the under the lip shot. You should also know how to hit a bunker shot in which you have an awkward stance and the long distance fairway bunker shot. Master these shots and you’ll have mastered some of the hardest shots in the game.
Mastering the Basics
Many players have a hard time getting out of bunkers because they fail to grasp the shot’s basic principal. The principal behind the shot is that the wedge never touches the ball. Instead, it enters the sand about an inch behind the ball and passes under it. The ball then flies out of the bunker riding on a cushion of sand. However, if you hit too far behind the ball, you grab too much sand and the ball never makes it out of the bunker, costing you a stroke.
Here are some basic bunker shot tips:
- Open the blade of the clubface first, then grip the club
- Open your stance a little
- Align your clubface square to the target
- Dig in with your feet for balance
- Position the ball near the heel of your front foot
- Make a full backswing
- Hinge your wrists at a 90-degree angle
- Accelerate on the downswing
- Make contact with the sand first
- Follow through on the swing.
Your swing path starts outside the target and cuts across the ball back to the inside. This outside-to-inside club path causes your swing to finish lower than normal. But that’s to be expected. Once you’ve mastered the shot’s basics, you can move on to hitting some of those tricky shots weekend golfers hate so much.
Tips on the Tough Shots The key to hitting the tough bunker shot is adjusting to the lie and not becoming intimidated by the shot. With a buried lie, all you want to do is get out of the bunker. Close the clubface, so it points left (for right-handers) and swing straight down, almost on top of the ball. The impact opens the clubface, the ball hops out of the sand, and then starts rolling toward the hole. Remember to allow for the roll.
When you have an awkward stance, like one foot in the bunker and one out, try to get as comfortable as possible. Then concentrate on maintaining your balance as you make a normal shot. This shot often seems a lot harder than it really, but you can make it if you remember that getting comfortable is the key.
With downhill lies with no lip, play the ball forward in your stance, in line with your front foot. Tilt your shoulders so they’re parallel with the bunker’s slope and make a normal bunker shot. Maintain your balance by planting your front foot firmly in the sand.
With a fried egg-the most common of the tough bunker shots-the key to escaping is to crate a steep downswing. To do that, hinge your wrists in the backswing quickly and hit right behind the ball.
When you swing harder with your sand wedge you often lose rhythm and balance. So with long bunker shots, try taking more club to make up for the 20- 30- or 40-yards of distance. You can also drop down to an 8- or 9-iron and open the clubface to make up for the yardage.
When you need to get the ball up over the lip of a bunker, open the clubface and take a big backswing. Accelerate down through the ball but pull the club back before it hits the lip. The ball pops out of the bunker. If you have a long shot to make, drop down a club or two. You can probably go down as far as the 7-iron, as long as you remember to open the clubface.
With the fairway bunker shot, make sure the club your using has enough loft to get you out of the bunker. Keep your lower body still during the shot, and concentrate on hitting the ball first, which is the opposite of your goal when hitting from a greenside bunker. Make a full swing with one club longer than the shot normally calls for.
Keep these tips in mind next time you find yourself in a bunker. It also won’t hurt to take a few golf lessons on bunker play. A few golf instruction sessions will do wonders for your shot making and your confidence. Also find a range where you can practice bunker shots and go there as often as you can.
Mastering the tough bunker shots cuts as much as two or three strokes off your average scores and helps lower your golf handicap. So if you want to become a complete golfer, learn how to get out of greenside bunkers.
Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book “How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros.” He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. He has a free weekly newsletter with the latest golf tips, golf lessons and golf instruction.