A five minute bunker lesson with Matt

Bunker play requires a sound understanding of the technique involved. From here the standard green-side bunker shot becomes straight forward.

The key concepts are:

1. Ball forward in stance – because you are not striking the ball but rather the sand first. (the opposite of the chip shot)

2. Open club face – the sand iron is designed to skid along the sand and push the ball out. When the club face is open the sole of the club glides perfectly, when it is closed it digs in too deeply making the shots erratic.

With these ideas in mind here’s what our 5 minute entailed:

Step 1: Draw a long line in the sand perpendicular to the target line. This line is to represent the ball position (i.e. have your front heel positioned on the line). Now draw a parallel line behind the first line (towards your mid line). This line represents the contact point in the sand. This line is usually about 2 – 3 inches behind the original line.

Step 2: Open the club face. It helps if you open the club face first and then re-grip the club. A good guide is to make sure the groove lines on the club face point outside of your left foot. You’ll need to play around with this a little – adjust the club face to suit the length of shot.

Step 3: Make some swings in the sand with the objective of hitting the line (the one closest to your mid line) and keeping the club face open throughout. You should take a shallow divot (because of the open club face stops the club digging deeply into the sand). When you get comfortable you can place a ball on the front foot line and repeat.

The ball should pop out every time. If you hit a poor shot you will be able to see where the club struck the sand. It’s then easy to make adjustments and move on.

You don’t need to worry about swinging in a certain way (like out to in) or doing anything that weird. By having the ball forward with an open club face is enough to get the ball out of the sand each time.

Matt’s technique was pretty good. Like a lot of golfers he had the ball too far back. His first three shots were perfect, but he then bladed the fourth shot across the green into big trouble. By moving the ball forward he will be able to eradicate that shot and start playing bunker shots more consistently and with confidence.

The simple objective of ball forward and open club face is all that is needed. One reason why my bunker lesson never needs to go for more than 5 minutes.

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

And one more thing. Once you master the basic shot you can experiment with different clubs, swing speeds and power. But make sure you understand the basic concept first.

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  • Iain Edwards

    Reply Reply March 26, 2010

    DEAR cameron – bunker technique

    here is my bunker techique which as a beginner gets me out of bunker 9/10 and i find is getting easier and easier.
    there are three parts – initial alingmnet , the adjusted alignment , swing
    Initial stance
    1. take a wide stance for stability with the ball opposite (in line with the left heel ) and the feet at right angles to the target line as if for a normal shot — the line through the toes is parallel to the target line
    2. -SHORTEN THE GRIP and the club face is square to the ball and aimed at the target as if for a normal hiT
    3 now , without moving feet , rotate the club face open in the hands and regrip in the rotated position( maintain this grip position AND THE SHORTENED GRIP ).This makes it easier for the club to get through the sand .
    if you were now to swing along the target line the ball would go right because the club face is open
    adjusted stance
    4. Now open the stance by moving the left foot behind its initial position ( in the direction of the heel ) turning the foot slightly to the left to allow for clearing the swing untill as the stance is opened the club face comes back square to the original target line . this means the more you open the club face the more you open the stance.
    5. in the open stance position wiggle the feet untill they sink into the sand. AT LEAST I INCH – THIS DROPS THE BODY HEIGHT RELATIVE TO THE BALL SO THAT THE CLUB FACE GOES AUTOMATICALLY UNDER THE SAND
    6.fLEX THE LEFT LEG FOR STABILITY AND SHORTENED GRIP, lean the weight forward onto front leg which gives stability and power behind the swing

    7 make your normal swing along the body alingment line – ( the line parrelel to the toe line not along the target line ).
    the club face will skim easily under the sand behind the ball because the feet are below the ball and the club face is open and the weight is forward
    the ball should go to the left of the target line in the direction of the swing but goes straight ahead ( along target line ) because the club face is open

    adjustments – open club face more for deeper bunkers
    – ball on up slope – open face less because the club us already swinging up
    – steepen the swing plane and hit harder into into sand where ball is more burried in sand
    – is much safer to hit up the slope not down a slope
    – the deeper the feet in the sand the easier to hit the sand and not the ball.
    the further the distance required for the hit the longer the back swing.

    follow through imagining your hitting the sand behind the ball ( not the ball) along the the swing plane onto the green .

    if you have a better description would love to hear it – iain edwards

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply March 28, 2010

      @ Iain: Thanks for your comments. I plan on adding a bunker lesson this week. Got some footage somewhere – just have to find it.

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