Fundamentals of Sand Play

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Sand Fundamentals

Invented by Gene Sarazen, and first used in public at the 1932 British Open, the sand wedge has come along way since its beginning. It has become a must have for all players trying to get their ball out of those dreaded holes in the ground filled with sand. With technology nowadays professional golfer’s sometime aim for bunkers for a place to miss, as it gives them the best chance to get up and down. Use the fundamentals below, and become as confident as the pro’s from bunkers and lower that score.

The Setup
For the basic sand shot, a player needs a stable base of support, a stance about shoulder width apart is ideal. Dig your feet into the sand for added stability. The stance should be open to the target, along with the hips and shoulder. This is done to help promote an out to in swing path which helps get the ball up in the air… and ultimately out of the bunker. Furthermore, an open clubface aligns to the right of your target, so when you do open the clubface on the wedge… with your open stance, the clubface should aim at the target. With my students I prefer to see a square back foot and an open front foot, as I find it tends to help them complete their swing. The arms should be hanging naturally from the shoulders, and the hands should be in line with the ball or back of it (no forward press<), this is because, to open the clubface, it is necessary to have your hands back. The ball should be positioned up in your stance, anywhere from a little in front of the center to off your lead foot.

The Swing
To understand how to properly hit a sand shot, you need to first understand the physics of the actual shot. Watching in slow motion, what actually happens during a properly played sand shot is pretty cool. The clubhead never makes contact with the ball; however the sand propels the ball out of the bunker. To effectively do this you need to hit the sand first, not the ball. Have problems skulling it or hitting it thin out of the bunkers? It’s because you’re hitting the ball first. Remember this thought, and work on hitting the sand about 1-2 inches before the ball for the best results.

Use your normal swing, however make sure you accelerate through the shot and finish your swing. If you leave your club in the sand after a shot… the ball will be too.

Use the length of the swing or different clubs, to make the ball go different distances. Another effective way of making the ball carry further is to take less sand… this way is very difficult as it requires a lot of practice and control. Fiddle with this part of your game to figure out what works best for you.

The ideal path through impact is out to in, with an open clubface… this can be accomplished in many ways, the most common way being an open stance. You can also purposely make an out to in swing if you need to. Either way, you must try to hold the clubface open through impact and roll your wrists over later in the swing than normal. This ensures the clubface is open and it gives you the best chance to get the ball out of the bunker.

Laws of Sand Play
1. Play the ball forward in your stance.
2. Dig your feet in for support and stability.
3. Open your stance and aim your whole body to the left of your intended target.
4. Open the clubface of your wedge.
5. Hit the sand behind the ball (1-2 inches).
6. Accelerate through the shot.
7. Finish the swing.

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