How many of you struggle getting out of the sand consistently? How often do you actually manage to get up and down from the sand? Bunkers are usually considered hazards you want to avoid, but with a little practice and confidence, you can play from bunkers like you can chip around the greens.
The reason hitting from a bunker is much harder than a chip or pitch is simple. It’s a different swing. Hitting from a bunker is a lot like hitting a flop shot, you want the club to slide the club under the ball.
Poor bunker play has been a sore point for many of my students. They tell me, “I rarely get the ball out of the sand in one shot, and even when I do, it usually poorly hit”. It’s a common problem, here’s are some fundamentals in sand play that are extremely important.
The key to proper sand play is to hit the sand behind the ball with a shallow angle of approach, accelerate through the sand and finish your swing. If your swing just digs into and stays in the sand, the ball is likely not to be going anywhere either. This drill will help you understand what it feels like to hit proper bunker shot, and also promote better sand fundamentals.
Start off by grabbing a foot long piece of 2×4, or anything of the sort (I used a large piece of trim in these pictures). Now bury the board in the sand as shown – ensure you can see the edges of the buried board. Stick a ball on top of the board, and setup to play a normal sand shot. Really focus on hitting the sand behind the ball.
How does the board help?
For one, the board will prevent you from being able to dig into the sand. It does this by encouraging a shallow approach to the ball. If you use a steep swing with this drill, your consistency will suffer drastically.
Two, it will encourage you to follow-through and finish your swing. The hardness of the board will force your club to bounce off of it – encouraging you to follow-through and finish your swing.
Three, it will teach you how far behind the ball you need to hit to pop the ball out of the bunker.
And finally, it will allow you to gain a sense of how a properly played bunker shot should feel.
I have had great success using this drill with my students; I encourage you try it as well, especially if you often find yourself in the traps. Good luck, and please comment below if you have any questions.