Want to know the fastest way to take strokes off your game? Spend two hours in a bunker. Two hours is all it takes to raise yourself out of the fear-and-doubt group (about 90 percent of all golfers) to the point where you can play from sand with confidence.
In truth, bunker play isn’t that difficult. As Walter Hagen said, it’s the only shot where you don’t have to hit the ball. But the best way to learn is to teach yourself, by experimenting with varying ball positions, degrees of openness in your clubface and shaft, and lengths and paces of swing.
Each combination of these elements moves the sand – and thus your ball – in a different way. In the course of a two-hour session you’ll arrive at an understanding of this bunker-play physics, and in the process you’ll discover how to play several different shots.
“As Walter Hagen said, it’s the only shot where you don’t have to hit the ball.”
MY FOUR ‘MUSTS’ IN BUNKERS
Good bunker technique boils down to four keys. In those two hours discussed above, work on these:
- Get good footing: By grinding your feet firmly into the sand you’ll get a solid, secure base for optimum balance.
- Grip down a few centimetres on the club: Do this to compensate for the fact that you’ve ground your feet into the bunker, thus bringing your hands closer to the ball. If you don’t shorten your grip, you’ll tend to dig the club in too deeply.
- Open your stance: Set up with your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders pointing well left of your target. This will facilitate the steeply upward takeaway and downward impact that are vital for 99 percent of greenside bunker shots.
- Don’t keep your eye on the ball: Instead, focus on a point two centimetres or so behind the ball, where you want to make impact.