Making Bunker Play a Strength of Your Game
Charlie King, PGA

Problem Area: Bunkers
Series: Instruction Feature

Published: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | 10:14 a.m.

Many PGA Tour pros will tell you in their magazine and TV tips that the bunker shot is the easiest in golf. This is a pretty demoralizing statement when you are having difficulty getting the ball out of the bunker much less near the hole. We find find that it couldn't be any farther from the truth.

Our short game skill testing data has shown us that it is the hardest shot in golf for most amateurs. Now that we know that, what do we do about it. What do these touring professionals know and do that makes them get it out with such ease? You're about to find out.

The sand wedge is designed differently than any other club in your bag. The back of the bottom of the club is lower than the leading edge. This allows the club to skid through the sand and not dig too deep. This is where the secret comes in. The secret to hitting consistent bunker shots is to take long, shallow divots and hit the sand in the same spot each time. I know that sounds simple, but it can make a profound difference in your bunker play.

The first thing I want you to do is find a practice bunker and knock some sand out of the bunker. Notice how far the sand flies, where the divot starts and the sound of the club hitting the sand. Was the divot long and shallow? Are your divots starting back of the center of your stance? Does the contact with the sand sound like a "thump" or a "thud" (thump would be the good one).

Once you are controlling your divots of sand, place a ball slightly forward of the middle of your stance. Stay focused on the divot of sand as if the ball is a large speck of sand. Make the same swing taking the long, shallow divot of sand, which will explode the ball onto the green. Your success will be contingent on your ability to take the same long, shallow divot and start the divot in the same place.

Thinking of it this way, distance control is relatively easy. Hit the sand short, medium and long to hit short, medium and long bunker shots. You can control the distance with the length and speed of your swing. Putting these ideas into practice will change your success in the bunker and maybe you will be able to say it's the easiest shot in golf.

Try this ...