Getting To The Other Side Of The Green

Most golfers understand the concept of executing a basic greenside bunker shot: You want to swing through the sand under the ball. But when it’s a longer bunker shot of 20-40 metres, the fatal mistake I see is swinging harder to try to hit the ball farther. Do that, and you usually end up taking too much sand and dumping the shot well short.

Instead, follow this checklist:

1. Use A Less Lofted Club
The longer the shot, the longer the club. Don’t be afraid to use as much as an 8-iron. But before you take your grip, open the face so you’ll have enough loft to get out and enough bounce to slide through the sand.

2. Aim Closer To The Ball
Instead of trying to get the clubface to enter the sand a couple of inches behind the ball, as you would on a standard bunker shot, try to touch down about an inch behind the ball. Nipping it this way will help get it to the flag.

3. Make A Full Turn
You might be tempted to shorten your swing for more control over this shot. But you need to make a full turn to generate enough power to propel the ball all the way there. This also will help your rhythm.

4. Maintain Knee Flex
Keep your legs bent well past impact to ensure the club glides through the sand under the ball. Don’t just chop and stop. Keep swinging through. A high finish will help loft the ball into the air and send it the distance you need.

David Leadbetter is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.