The basic fundamentals for getting out of greenside bunkers are:
To play great shots from bunkers you need strong fundamentals. When playing from a greenside bunker you should be using a sand wedge. This club will vary in loft from 55 to 58 degrees with 8 to 12 degrees of bounce (I use a 58 degree sand wedge with 8 degrees bounce).
For the correct setup; aim 10 degrees left of the intended target and open your clubface so that the leading edge is at right angles to the target, then regrip your club. The ball position should be in line with the front heel and your weight should be central. The last thing to do before starting the swing is to wiggle your feet in the sand; there are three reasons for this:
The start of the backswing should be slightly outside the target line. There is an immediate breaking of the hands as you start this motion, producing a more vertical swing which encourages the club to enter the sand about two inches behind the ball (this is the point of entry).
What you are actually trying to do is to take as little sand as possible without contacting the ball, thus allowing the sand to lift the ball from out of the bunker and then making a follow-through left of the target. As you make contact with the sand there should be a cupping of the left wrist. Let me explain 'cupping', assume you are wearing a watch on your left wrist and the face, as usual, is pointing outward.
When contacting the sand on the forward swing, you should try to take the back of your left hand and move it towards your watch face thereby creating wrinkles underneath your left wrist. This action is called 'cupping of the wrist' and it is important in producing quality sand shots. Since this motion prevents the club head from closing, the ball is lifted in the air with backspin.
Correct setup, proper technique and a consistent point of entry are the three fundamentals that are the most important areas a player can work on regarding sand play around the greens. You don't have to be perfect to consistently get out of a bunker, but you have enough of the basic principles to get started.
A 'Consistent Point of Entry' Drill
One of the most critical parts of consistent sand play is having the club enter the sand at the same point on every shot during the forward swing. Achieving the correct point of entry, two inches behind the ball, can be practiced using this drill.
Your objective with this drill is to have the club enter the sand on the line you've drawn, which is two inches behind the 'balls'. Practicing this drill can help you achieve consistency on your point of entry with greenside sand shots.
For further information please contact
Ross Hickson PGA Golf Professional
at Red Kite Golf,
19 Rose Ave,
By phone 01494 259 189 or 07903 050139.