Most seasoned golfers have a hard time getting the ball out of sand bunkers and simply accept adding a few strokes on every round. You also witness disasters at hardpan greenside bunkers, where even single handicappers suffer simply due to a lack of skills.
From my experience, bunker play is one part of the game that golfers of all skill levels need to work on to improve their scorecard, so today I will share a few ways to hone your bunker play. These should help both seasoned and improving golfers.
Ideally, most seasoned golfers should expect to get the ball out of the pit, anywhere on the green, in one shot, while more experienced ones should look at putting from good lies and hitting the green even in the most adverse circumstances, such as a buried lie, hardpan surface or a downhill lie.
For almost all of these bunker shots your posture should be similar: draw an imaginary line from the ball to the hole, then place your feet at a 45-degree angle left of the straight line and the clubface 45 degrees right of the line. Take your backswing and follow through along the line of your feet keeping the clubface at the same angle.
Usually the best bunker shots make contact a quarter of an inch behind the ball, which also generates sufficient backspin for control. It is paramount that you don't unhinge your wrist until you make contact with the ball. Players who unhinge their wrists at the start of the backswing remain in the pit even after many attempts.
More experienced golfers should also work on the pace of their swing and the length of their backswing and follow-through so they can control distance and end up close to the cup.
Buried Lie and Hardpan
Too many golfers are too rigid about their club selection when their ball is buried in a sand trap-they prefer sand or even lob wedges (both high lofted clubs) regardless of the lie, which can lead to disaster. All high lofted clubs produce a high bounce, making it extremely difficult to even escape the bunker. For these shots you need to dig more sand so a pitching wedge or even a 9-iron, which produce less loft, are better options. Hitting with these clubs there is no need to close the clubface but make sure you select the club considering the distance of the shot-if more than 30 yards opt for the 9-iron.
Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Golf Director at Le Meridien Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu. [email protected]