For many golfers, the sand trap is a hazard that causes no end to the grief and frustration on the golf course. Wanting to avoid going to the beach at all costs, some will incur extra strokes just to avoid this area. Personally, I think it would be a good idea to learn to hit out of the sand because in the long run it will be the ultimate stroke saver. I think hitting my ball out of the sand is not that difficult due to my focused practice years back. I learned the proper technique, at least for my swing, to splashing out of the sand trap and have not looked back since. Keep reading for three aspects of hitting a sand shot that are a must for lower golf scores.
If you break down a bunkers shot there are many moving parts. When beginning to hone your bunker skills I think it is important to focus on more big picture aspects of each swing. They are using the bounce, contact with the sand, and follow through. If you can stay focused on these three areas, your sand play will definitely save strokes.
First, the bounce:
Specifically, about this part of the your swing is the skimming of the club through the sand on the bounce. This is a 90% solution which works for most sand shots. There are other instances when a different technique is required, but until you have mastered this part of the sand swing, I suggest you do not worry about them. Stay focused on skimming the sand and using the bounce of your club.
Hitting the sand before the ball is another very important key to up and down bunker play. The following video explains why it is important to hit the ball in the proper position. The two inch before and four inch after guideline works perfect for my game and again is a 90% solution for consistent contact during a sound shot.
My last focus area was always the follow through. In the next video, I advocate the 1/3 – 2/3 swing motion. Having a full follow through is important to ensure that the club head accelerates through the ball. This 90% solution is very important because any deceleration during contact will result in the ball staying in the trap. Also, there are a few other points covered in the video below that are important to saving strokes out of the sand.
There you have my three main focuses when practicing and playing out of the sand. When I stopped fearing bunker shots, it was because I semi-mastered using the bounce of the club, hitting the sand in the proper spot, and using my follow through properly. If you can master these three aspects of bunker play, you will see a drop in your score as you consistently save strokes out of the sand.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
4 thoughts on “Saving Strokes Out Of The Sand”
Jim, thanks for the good tips for extracting yourself from the sand. Speaking of sand (and water), I am in St. Augustine, FL and will be making my way up to the World Golf HOF and Stadium Course at TPC today to check them out. Didn’t bring my sticks because a tee time will set you back a cool $600. But pics are coming, stay tuned!
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What an exciting adventure. I look forward to reading about your journey to the HOF. Have fun and stay safe.
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I break down sand shots from green side bunkers into two categories. Those I need a steep swing for and those I need a shallow swing to get the result I want. Most of the time, the shallow swing is what I’m looking to produce. But when it’s really wet, or if I have a fried egg kind of lie, a steeper swing is what I need. And I’ll achieve that by just adjusting how far I stand from the ball. Closer is steeper. Farther away the swing is shallower.
I’ll also choose which wedge to use based on the same basic criteria. When I need to hit through wet sand or have a fried egg kind of lie, the lob wedge is my tool of choice because it has less bounce and will dig easier and that helps me get under a ball. And in dry conditions and normal lies I’ll use the sand wedge which has more bounce. In my case it’s just 2 degrees more so shallowing out the swing is generally a necessity to help keep the club from digging in the super soft, fluffy kind of sand we find regularly down here so I’ll stand a little bit farther back from the ball and swing flatter/shallower. Allow the bounce to slide me through without too much digging.
I find the most trouble when the sand has a dry layer on top and a wet layer underneath. I’m still looking for a way to help me gauge what I need then. It’s just a guess now and that makes it harder to swing confidently. Our bunkers here at home are like that. I guess I need to land in them more often and get more practice facing the situation head on.
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Sounds like you have your sand process down. The things you discuss are for a slightly more advanced player who understands the three concepts I put forward in the article. I generally do not change clubs, but do for a short sided or long bunker shot. The change in loft does help for sure. Lastly, stay out of the sand….haha. That is the real stroke saver.