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Bunker Play

by Mark Wickenden

OVERVIEW
Interestingly, the bunker shot is not a difficult shot for professionals. Statistics show they get it up and down with about the same regularity they would a green-side pitch. On the other hand, most amateurs are fearful of the shot and are usually happy to get the ball anywhere on the green. What is the big difference between a Professional and Amateur playing a bunker shot? The technique used, and the amount of time spent practicing the shot.

SETUP
To be a successful bunker player the clubhead needs to consistently enter the sand at the same point. What follows is a brief outline of the correct setup and objectives:

  • Take your stance with your body line aiming left of your target(approx. 30 degrees).
  • Lay your sand wedge open.
  • Position the ball opposite your left heel, and swing along your body line, i.e. as if you were going to hit the ball 30 degrees left of the target.
  • Your weight should slightly favor your left side, which will naturally produces a somewhat steep back-swing.
  • Make a nearly full swing.
  • Aim to enter the sane approximately 4" behind the ball.

Hint: Visualize splashing the sand into the cup.

Correct setup is critical to the success of this shot, along with positioning the ball 4" forward of the low point of your swing. You should never try to help the ball into the air. Always hit down, into the sand and let the loft of the club produce the height necessary. The open clubface produces the bounce, preventing the clubhead from digging too deep into the sand.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
An excellent exercise to gain consistency, is to draw a line in the practice bunker. Assume your setup so the line is 4" back of your left heel and practice entering the sand at the line- do this repeatedly until you can consistently have the clubhead clipping the line with every swing.




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