Here's how to make one of the toughest shots in golf -- the 40-yard bunker shot -- less daunting
By T.J. Auclair
It's often regarded as one of the most difficult shots in golf: the 30-yard+ bunker shot.
Webb Simpson pulled it off to perfection in the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday, holing a 100-footer from the bunker on the par-5 11th on his way to a blowout victory.
Here's the shot:
We're not all going to hole it like Simpson did there, but I think we can agree -- there's plenty of room for improvement for all of us when it comes to that shot.
Lou Guzzi, 2013 PGA National Teacher of the Year, explained what you can do to make the long bunker shot less daunting.
1. Focus on your contact point.
"Unlike a bunker shot from a greenside bunker that's, say 10 yards, from the hole where you're trying to hit the sand several inches behind the ball, you're going to want your contact point on the sand to be much closer to the ball for the longer bunker shots," Guzzi said.
2. Decide what the "size of your swing" should be.
"There are a couple of things to remember when you have to take a longer swing in a bunker," Guzzi said. "First, if you're using a lob- or sand-wedge, you're going to have to fly the ball a lot closer to the hole because a club with that much loft isn't going to run out, so it will require a longer swing. If you're using a more lofted club -- like a gap-, pitching-wedge or 9-iron, the swing won't be quite as long because you'll want the ball to roll out more."
3. Generate a lot of speed.
"On those longer bunker shots, you need to be aggressive and have a lot of speed moving through the ball," Guzzi said.
4. Experiment with a variety of clubs.
"Unfortunately, a lot of people don't spend much time practicing bunker shots," Guzzi said. "Find a place at your club where you can practice those shots and experiment. Just because you're in a bunker doesn't mean you have to go for the sand wedge or the lob wedge. Mix in some variety. Try your gap wedge, your pitching wedge and 9 iron and pay attention to how each shot reacts when it lands. Take mental notes, or actually jot notes down on paper."