It is perceived by most amateur golfers that sand shot or bunker shot is often one of the most intimidating shots to execute, and can often leave a golfer discouraged.
As I have mentioned before, I believe that this game is 60% mental and 40% physical; therefore what we see and believe we will do with a golf club is most of the time what does happen. Hence, if you take a negative thought into the bunker chances are you will get a negative result.
There are only two reasons why at times we can’t get the ball out of the sand: Once you make contact with the sand you don’t follow through, the most common fault I see, or perhaps you took too much sand that resulted from hitting too far behind the ball.
The general rule is to aim two inches behind the ball so you are in a sense “lifting” the ball with the sand. To start, make sure you take a practice swing outside the hazard area-you may not ground your club in a hazard until you are making the forward motion of your intended swing.
Next, enter the bunker and plant your feet firmly in the sand. We want to set the clubface very slightly open, and that your body and shoulders are aiming left of the target to encourage an ‘out to in’ swing path which will assist you to cut under the ball. You should also remember to grip down slightly on the club as you have already reduced your height to the ball by digging your feet into the sand.
We now want to swing the club slightly outside to inside, on a steeper plane than the normal swing. This is achieved by ‘hinging’ your wrists early in the swing.
When we are close to the green we must create this angle which will get the ball out of the sand and has a higher trajectory to then sit on the green. As I take my club back, my hands have ‘hinged’ to make them strong, and then I continue up until my hands are between my waist and my shoulders. At this point, I pull the end of the club down and I aim generally two inches behind the ball accelerating through the sand and making a full finish. You should get the feeling your hands are ‘splashing’ under the ball.
Aiming two inches behind the ball can often end up to be five or more inches or no sand at all! I recommend practicing by drawing a line in the sand and practice making contact with that line over and over again. If you find you are hitting in front of the line, you are probably using too much wrist action, which results in ‘scooping’ the ball instead of letting your arms pull through the sand. On the other hand, if you are hitting the sand after the line you are pulling your shoulders to much and not enough wrist action.
Imagine swing your sand iron through a pool of water, and you want to skim through the top 2 inches of the surface only – no more, no less. This is the feeling your mind should have going through impact.
After a bit of practice you’ll find this shot becomes very easy to execute and you will approach this shot with much more confidence.
Think positively and finish your swing!