2008-03-21 / Sports

Golf Instruction

How To Play The Three Hardest Bunker Shots
By Joel Garyn (Garyn is a USGFT golf professional. You can contact him for lessons at 347- 404-3751.)

Downhill Lie

Why it's so hard: It reduces the loft on your wedge in the situation that you need it most. If the hole is cut near you, it is unlikely you'll get it close so just get the ball out.

If the hole is on the other side of the green, you have a chance to run it close because this shot will have almost no spin to it.


Set your shoulders parallel to the slope of the bunker, which will shift your weight over your front foot.

Use your most lofted wedge to counter the de-lofting effect of the slope. If you can maintain your balance, play the ball opposite your front foot. If that could send you tumbling, play it toward the middle of your stance.

Have faith in your club. Even de-lofted, it'll still get the ball up. Trying to scoop the ball into the air by flipping your hands is always a bad thing, but in this case it could lead to a total whiff.

Ball Above The Feet

An upright swing will bury your club in the sand. So for one of the rare times in the short game, keep your upper body straight up. Position the ball just forward of center and choke down on the grip to shorten the club so you don't bury the ball into the hill.

This shot tends to go to the left, so aim to the right of your target. The higher the ball is above your feet, the more right you need to aim. Make a baseball-type swing to avoid getting the club stuck. Accelerate aggressively through the shot and try to throw that sand all the way to your target.

Ball Below Feet

If you don't set up to this shot correctly, you'll wind up doing a somersault into the sand. And if the ball is close to the lip of the bunker, you can easily smack the turf.

Bend your knees and lower your rear end to bring the ball within reach. Spread your feet wider than shoulder width to create a stable base for your swing.

Position the ball forward in your stance just inside your front foot. Keep your lower body quiet to maintain balance. Avoid hitting too far behind the ball. Hinge your wrists quickly on your takeaway, then unhinge them as you swing down.

The steeper the slope, the more the ball will want to go right so aim well left of your target.

Losing your bounce on a hard sand requires two things. A wedge designed with minimal bounce and the club must be wide open when it hits the sand. Less bounce and an open face should allow your club to slide under the ball.

Next week, we will be starting on a series of putting instruction. I feel that this part of the game requires a lot more of your time and attention. We will be discussing all aspects from the set-up to the selection of the right putter for you.

No one has become an accomplished player without practice. Practice, however, does not maker perfect. It makes permanent. Therefore, what you practice is critical to your success.

If you have any questions, please email me at itchgolf@aol.com or call. Have a great week and take care.

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