Simplifying your bunker shots

By Earl Svenningsen, PGA, Special Contributor

I teach my students at VIP Golf Academy a bunker shot that I believe gives them the best chance to hit close shots from the sand. The components of this sand shot are:

Bunker Shot Drill
The club path needs to be steep or V-shaped on bunker shots.
Bunker Shot DrillBunker Tip

1. Open stance.
2. Ball forward in stance.
3. Open clubface to the target.
4. A quick wrist break on takeaway.
5. An outside-in swing path along your feet line.
6. Hitting an inch or two behind the ball with the clubface remaining open through impact.
7. Let the clubhead swing past the hands to a full finish.

This sand method, generally used by low handicap and professional golfers, is different from the standard golf swing. The average player is usually happy to just get out of the bunker. Also, he has not had time to practice the correct sand technique and get comfortable with it.

What I have witnessed is the beginning and higher handicap golfer will use his regular swing and scoop or try to pick the ball from the sand. This is very difficult because you have to be so precise; rarely does it produce a good result. What I would suggest is a bunker lesson from a trained PGA or LPGA teaching professional to learn the right method.

But here is a quick cure that will immediately help all golfers who have trouble in the sand:

1. Take your normal stance.
2. Place the ball in the center or slightly forward of your stance.
3. Open the clubface slightly.
4. Take a distinctly upright shaped backswing with more wrist break than normal.
5. Swing down that same steep path and try to land about an inch to two inches behind the ball.
6. Dig down with four times the force than normal (assuming there is a good amount of sand).
7. Follow through to a full finish.

To hit a proper bunker shot, the club path needs to be steep or V shaped. Next, there must be more power directed down to get the ball moving up. Finally, the follow-through is very important. If you just stop the club in the sand, it will stay there and so will your ball.

To get your ball out of the sand, think steep and follow-through.

Earl Svenningsen, PGAEarl Svenningsen, PGA, Special Contributor

Earl Svenningsen is a quarter-century member of the PGA of America. The creator of "Swing the Natural Way" instructional video, Earl has been a featured speaker at numerous PGA teaching seminars and is past Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year

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