Let the sand become your friend…

VIJAY Singh of Fiji hits from a sand trap during practice for the 2019 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club. | Archives

VIJAY Singh of Fiji hits from a sand trap during practice for the 2019 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club. | Archives

Published May 2, 2024


ONE of the most feared shots in golf, besides hitting over a water hazard, is the bunker shot. The ball resting on sand and not having the knowledge of how long or short the golfer is going to hit the shot, all adds to this becoming a nightmare of a situation. Fear not, let’s look at some mental and practical practices to make this a friendly area of play.

Firstly at the outset, you need to realise you ended up in this bunker due to a bad shot. Eliminate the thinking of complaining about the sand and the reason as to why the ball ended up here. I have heard many golfers create some much negative talk before playing this shot. It only adds to the difficulty. The objective of this shot is to get back in play and not follow up with another bad shot.

Different courses have very different sands in bunkers and this knowledge can be gained with your feet. Move your feet around when addressing the shot to feel the hardness or softness of the sand. Most championship courses will have good soft sand for you to splash out of.

Once you have the knowledge of the surface of sand, chose the club of choice. A 56 degree is preferred if it’s a bunker shot that requires some distance, but if it’s a short shot the ideal club will be a 60 degree lob wedge.

Approach this shot with soft hands, any tension will cause you steepness at impact. What makes this shot so tricky is you not actually hitting that ball but the sand, which is compressed to splash the ball out.

The set up is much lower as if sitting down on a bar stool. Your hands will be in the centre of stance with the ball more of the left foot to create height quickly. Your weight needs to be more towards the leading foot which is the left.

The soft hands will help you slide through the sand rather than dig at the ball. The key to this shot is acceleration through impact. This will only come with practice and confidence.

The drill I find which works best for the bunker is known as the towel drill. Simply place a towel under the ball in the bunker. Hit shots and feel your club slide off the towel. This is the visualisation we want when hitting, your club with soft hands, accelerating through impact and sliding of the sand.

Try these and make sure to put in the hours of practice in the bunker area. It’s a funny game golf sometimes, once you don’t fear the bunkers, you hardly ever hit into them! Golf is a great tool of life, it’s just you and that white ball. Once you’ve done all the thinking between your ears, it’s time to make that shot. Catch you on the fairways!

– Sewgolum is a PGA AA golf professional, Golf Pro for Saudi Aramco and was voted Top 5 International PGA Pro for the year 2022.

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