Swing Down, Not Around

If you’re having trouble escaping bunkers, it may be because you’re swinging the club around your body on the way back. That’s bad with bunker shots. Swinging the club around your body creates a shallow entry into the sand, which is bad for this type of shot. Some golfers compound this mistake by trying to scoop the ball out of the bunker. Both are death moves in a bunker shot.

Below are five keys to this shot:

  1. Open the clubface
  2. Use a slightly open stance
  3. Get the clubhead up on the backswing
  4. Accelerate through impact
  5. Hold the finish a few seconds

The sand wedge is designed specifically to hit shots from greenside bunkers. The bounce on the clubhead—the area beneath the club’s leading edge—helps you cut through the sand and throw the ball out of the bunker.

The sand wedge is also the heaviest club in your bag, thanks to the bounce. You can use this weight to your advantage when hitting bunker shots by making a more vertical backswing. This lets you come more steeply into the sand an inch or so behind the ball. It should feel like the clubhead is falling from the top of the backswing.

The other keys to this move include starting with an open clubface, taking a slightly open stance at address, and positioning the ball forward in your stance. When combined with a vertical downswing, these moves help you cut through the sand and produce the thump you hear with well-played bunker shots.

But be careful. The clubhead’s weight won’t produce a full finish. To do that, you must accelerate through impact and finish high with your swing. Hold the pose for a few seconds to “prove” you finished well.

Bunker shots are tricky. But you may have more success with them if you take a more vertical backswing and then let it fall into the sand. And don’t try to scoop the club out of the sand. Trust the clubhead’s loft to pop the ball up.


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