July 30th, 2013 by Matt Keller
When you find yourself with a bunker shot, the absolute worst thing you can do is leave the shot in the bunker. Therefore, the first goal is to get the ball out of the bunker and on the putting surface. Next, you want to get the ball as close to the hole as possible.
Players who struggle keeping their lower body stable through a bunker shot will benefit from the following drill. A common error results from your weight shifting toward your back foot in an attempt to scoop the ball out of the bunker. Practice keeping the majority of your weight on your left foot. Keep your left foot flat in the sand. Raise your right heel off the ground and keep your right toe planted in the sand. Hit a few practice shots. This will position keep your weight positioned on your left side through the shot.
One of the biggest mistakes in the bunker is the lack of acceleration through impact. Ideally you should hear a “thump” of the club head hitting the sand. The acceleration of the club head through the sand should explode the ball from the bunker. This means you want to create a longer follow through than backswing. Practice this drill to capture the feeling of acceleration. You can practice this almost anywhere. Simply tee a ball up and make a half backswing and swing through to a complete finish. The idea is to swing and hit the tee so the ball falls straight down. Remember, you intentionally miss the ball in the bunker, so this drill teaches to swing through the ball and accelerate to a solid finish. The combination of keeping your weight forward and accelerating will guarantee better bunker shots.
The dollar bill drill is timeless practice routine in a bunker. Place a dollar bill down in the sand with the ball positioned in the middle of the bill. Next, set up to the ball and swing. The dollar bill should represent where the club interacts with the sand, a few inches before the golf ball. Continue to swing through the sand and follow through. When you understand how to hit through the sand properly, you can place any small object in the sand (such as a set of car keys, pocket knife, etc.) and pop the object out of the bunker onto the green.
Experiment with different shots in the bunker. For example, try placing your hands lower on the grip if the ball is above your feet. Practice hitting different clubs, such as a pitching wedge. Adjust where the club head hits down in the sand. A pitching wedge will produce more roll if you hit about a half an inch behind the ball. A sand wedge will produce more spin and stop quicker. Finally, square the club face if the ball is buried in the sand. Produce a steep swing to create a large splash of sand and pop the ball out of the bunker. There are endless possibilities in the bunker. The only way to discover these different shots is through practice.