Out in a Splash
Let me show you the do's and don't that lie behind a successful bunker technique.
Good sand play involves utilising the 'bounce' provided by the flange on your sand-iron, and to do that you have to open up the face a little (also adding loft) before you complete your set-up.
Here's an easy way to get used to a good position when you practise (you cannot touch the sand out on the course, remember).
Start by aiming the leading edge at the target, then simply lay back the shaft to add loft.
The key now is to shuffle your body around until the butt-end is pointing at your belly-button - i.e. your body and the club are in the same relationship as normal (below).
The leading edge is square to the target, your hands, arms and body now in a regular position, albeit aligned slightly to the left of the target.
When you now take your normal grip, the clubface is open to your alignment, but aiming nicely at the pin.
A common mistake is opening your body too severely in relation to the target line. For a regular greenside shot such as this, standing with your feet, hips and shoulders something like 30 degrees open to the target is ideal.
That gives you a good 'look' at the shot, while at the same time allowing you to swing the club back and through on a fairly orthodox line.
You will note also that I have gripped down the shaft a little and that the hands fall comfortably beneath my chin.
A sense of addressing the ball with low hands at the set-up encourages the full wrist hinge that enables you to maintain (if not increase) that open clubface position on the way to the top.
Swing along body line
Hands swing left (along body line) while the open
clubface is seen to be outside the hands as it
skims through the sand.
That maintains the open
The left wrist is cupping up towards the
sky - another key to keeping that face open.
The backswing follows the line of the toes - that's your best thought from a good set-up.
Don't make the mistake of picking the club up excessively outside the line of your toes or pulling it too far to the inside. This is probably the worst fault of all; inside and shut really is a killer move.
So trust your set-up and go with the flow of your body line. A three-quarter swing with a full hinge of the wrists gets you in a good position at the top.
The legs and knees support the motion but there's little weight shift to speak of.
Good players remain 'centred' over the ball -their weight, if anything, favouring the left side.
Turn, hinge and release for a successful escape
Looking at the sequence from face on, I want to make a couple of observations that can further help you to avoid making some common errors. First of all, look at how 'centred' I am at the set-up (at left above).
If anything, I actually feel that my weight is leaning a little left towards the target. That's very different to leaning back off the shot, with too much weight falling on the back foot (left) - a position we see a lot of at our golf schools.
This fault stems from a player's desire to want to get behind and under the ball, but one that actually results in a player hitting the sand too far behind the ball. The further you lean your upper body behind the ball, the harder it is to deliver the club precisely into the sand on your chosen spot.
No! Too much weight on the right side - for this shot, you actually want to feel that you lean towards the target.
No! Turning off the ball hurts your consistency; try to remain 'centred' as you make your swing, as I have above
Work the line - Improve your consistency
Good bunker players have pin-point control when it comes to delivering the sole of the sand-iron into the sand. This is something you have to work on improving when you practise, and this easy exercise will help you.
All you have to do is score a line in the sand and then try to remove a consistent cut from either side of that line, about two inches ahead of the line as you make initial con¬tact and perhaps three inches beyond as the clubhead makes its exit.
Not too deep. Make it a nice shallow divot of sand.