Online Lessons – Lesson 4
The Bunker Shot
The first thing one must remember when playing a bunker shot to a green, is work out what the distance is to get the ball onto the green and what distance you have remaining to the hole. This will determine whether you should play to just get the ball onto the green or to try and get close to the pin. It may not be possible to get the ball close, there may be water at the other side of the green and a cautionary shot away from the hole may be more beneficial than a heroic shot at the pin.
When one misses the green and the ball ends up in a bunker you should assess your options according to your expertise in playing a bunker shot.
Club selection is important. You should play a bunker shot with your Sand Wedge. Whilst a Lob Wedge has the most loft it may not be the best club to play as it has very little bounce on the sole of the club. Clubs with little bounce tend to dig deep into sand, which brings the club to an abrupt halt with little power getting to the ball. This could result in the ball remaining in the bunker.
Grip the club about an inch down the grip. This will give you good control and feel. The club face should be opened slightly to increase the loft; this will get the ball to lift quickly when struck. To open the club face, start by holding the club in your bottom hand then turn the club open and grip with your top hand. Once your top hand is on the grip you can now set your other hand correctly making your normal grip, the only difference being the club face is now open to the target. Never open the club-face by turning your hands open, as they will return to their natural position when you swing the club and the extra loft you are trying to achieve will be lost.
Your stance should be open to the target line with the leading edge of your club aiming at the target. Your feet should be about 30-40cm apart and set firmly in the sand. The ball should be positioned just forward of centre, a way to find the right position is to have the ball forward of a point under the chin.
Bending forward, and keeping your head still, with your weight favouring your left side, take the club back steeply on the line of your feet and also breaking the wrists. When you start the down swing make sure you have a descending action, which hits the sand about an inch behind where the ball sits. The steeper you swing the club down the more the ball will lift. You must also make sure your swing has a good high finish. You have to commit to the shot, you cannot play this shot with a club head speed that you would use for a shot off grass, and you need to swing about twice your normal speed.
When you have mastered the action, practice this shot hitting balls to different distances on the practice green. Doing this will create what you are going to get on the golf course, which is one chance at playing the required shot.
You will soon start to get the feel of the swing and once your confidence lifts you will start to hit balls close to the hole.
If you need further help e-mail us with your contact details and the area where you live, and we will send you details of your nearest PGA Professional who will be more than willing to help you with individual lessons or equipment advice.
Watch out for the next lesson in the series.
Trouble shots around the green.
The bunker shot will be archived under Previous Lessons when the next lesson is presented. You will always be able to look back and check out previous tips again.