An old lady golfer friend of mine used to say “I love to be bunkered!” It took me a while to understand all that she meant. Partly it was her comfort with sand play and partly it was that she liked to play in the sand!
Being bunkered used to be a severe penalty. We can thank Gene Sarazen for pioneering the development of the modern day sand wedge. Thank you, Gene! Undoubtedly you have marveled at the touring pros, who sometimes intentionally play into greenside bunkers. That is how proficient these fellows are.
There are lots of theories about sand play. Today, we are going to address green side bunker play fro the beginning golfer. Practice our little lesson and you, like my lady friend, may like to get bunkered too!
This theory about greenside bunker play is for the beginner. Those greenside bunkers can be a frustrating result for what could very well have been a fairly good shot. So, let’s take go into that greenside bunker with the confidence that we not only know we can get out, but expecting to launch a well-designed shot that will end up close to the pin.
The typical beginner usually has no idea how to escape. Instinctively, they try to pick the ball from the sand. Forget that! Not a good play. Our recommendation might not be found in too many textbooks, but you know what? It works. And, if you spend one hour practicing it, you’ll be out of the bunker and taking your putter right along with you. Your playing partners will be surprised, and soon they may very well be borrowing your shot.
You are a right handed golfer and your approach shot has settled at the bottom of a menacing bunker 10 yards from the green. Sugar! No problem. We like this baby. Our goal is not to escape. It is to get up and down.
We take a solid stance, getting our right foot squarely into the sand. We have the ball middle-forward or middle, knowing that we can adjust according to the desired elevation. We practice this positioning to determine what works for us. Our left hand is up on the top of the shaft and it is very firm. Our club face is very open. We are going to swing aggressively at this shot. We will not stop our swing. We are very conscious of our head being behind the ball and we will keep it there through our execution. We move our left foot back, slightly opening our stance.
Remember, we never ground our club in the bunker, or in any hazard for that matter. We make sure of our line and take one last look at our landing zone. We will make a turn but not a big motion. With our turn, we actually take the club up and out, well right and above the ball. Our wrist is cocked and firm. Our left hand grip is dominant. We now swing down hard releasing the wrist at the bottom, under the back and just behind the ball. We swing through the sand and the ball. Pop!
She jumps right up, just like my lady friend, and lofts onto the green. You don’t think so? Wanna bet? Practice it. You’ll be looking for another beginner tip and a lady just like mine!