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Pro Tip of the Week: How to Hit Better Bunker Shots

Some courses have beautiful bunkers all over the course, but once you get in them you won’t be thinking about how lovely they look from a distance. They are deep and difficult to get out of, much less hit nice, high, spinning shots like you see the pros hit on television. Here are a few tips to help you improve your technique:

1. Remember that since you are hitting behind the ball on purpose you must swing much harder in the sand than you do to hit the ball a commensurate distance off the grass. I see way too many people keeping their feet planted in the sand, trying to use just their arms to get the ball out. So the first tip here is to always use your lower body to help build up enough speed to splash the ball out the right distance.

2. Play from a fairly wide, slightly open stance with the ball positioned just inside the left heel.

3. Bend your knees a bit more than usual and push them slightly toward the target, situating your weight about 60% on your left leg. Your nose should be directly over the spot you intend to hit the sand behind the ball.

4. Open the clubface slightly for a longer shot, and more so for a shorter one, by twisting the clubface to the right in your hands and then taking your grip. Gripping normally and then twisting the hands to open the face doesn’t work.

5. Swing the club back along your foot line (which makes the path slightly outside), making sure you take enough swing to hit the ball about 3 times as far as you actually have to the pin.

6. Bring the downswing back toward impact on the same path as the backswing. There is no need to shift the club to the outside to cut across the ball more.

7. Aim the strike about an inch to an inch and a half behind the ball. If you land the club properly the divot will appear to be another inch back since the bounce of the club will hit the sand before the leading edge.

8. Think of impact as feeling like you are skipping a flat rock across a lake. You should be sliding the club under the ball with plenty of speed, and you should aim for a fairly full finish. To practice the feel of the proper impact simply hold your left hand palm up and slap across it with the back of your right hand, it’s palm being up as well. It is imperative that you keep the face working open through the sand. If you release it like a normal shot the leading edge of the wedge will dig in and slow the club head down too much.

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