The Green Side Bunker Shot Made Easy!
Most golfers who suck exhibit their "suckness" best when they're hitting from a green side bunker. You've heard you're playing partner walk into the sand and say "I suck at these". You've probably said it yourself.
Does it annoy the hell out of you to hear Johnny Miller say "he'll be trying to hole this" as a pro stands over an "easy" bunker shot? Well it shouldn't, because for a pro or anyone else who knows how to execute this shot it really is one of the easier shots in golf. Here's why;
The short bunker shot from a decent lie has a fairly large margin for error. Yes, you heard that correctly! A pitch shot from a tight fairway lie may actually be the harder shot!
When this shot is executed correctly you are hitting behind the ball, anyway from about 1/2" to 1-1/2". It almost doesn't matter which one to some degree. Hit it "perfect"(1" behind) and the you're up close for birdie. Hit it a little thin (1/2") and the ball comes out a little hot but with more spin so it stops faster. Hit it a little heavy (1-1/2") and it comes out a little lower and slower but with less spin so it rolls further. The result of all three, pretty much the same!
Approach this shot the the correct way and it's easy. The wrong way and you'll be lucky if you're not hitting the same shot on your next stroke.
How to Hit The Short Bunker Shot:
For the standard sand shot with a decent lie I want you to first imagine how the club is hitting the sand. (notice I said sand, not ball) You are trying to hit the sand with the BACK of the club. (describing this is tricky, but here goes.) What you are trying to do is hit behind the ball, with the club face very wide open. Feel like you are smacking the back of the club into the sand. To get an idea of what this should feel like, take your right hand and smack your left palm by sliding your right palm over your left. You should end up with the back of your right hand facing you. Just a firm sliding, descending, SMACK! That's what you want to feel with this shot.
Got it? Good.
Grip your sand wedge with the face wide open pointing at the target. Ball off your left foot, stance wide open. (left foot back about 4-6" or so. Shoulders in line with YOUR FEET...not the target.) Weak grip. (turn hands to left a bit to prevent you from turning your hands over. You don't want to release on this one)
Now pick out a grain of sand or something about 1" behind the ball and focus on it hard. It is crucial to keep your eye on this grain of sand. (I'm serious) If you take your eyes off of it you'll mostly likely hit the ball first and you'll wind up somewhere near the clubhouse.
Break your wrists quickly on the back swing, swinging along the line of your feet.(outside in) Don't overdue the length of the back swing. You have to accelerate through this shot. If you take the club too far back and have to slow down to gauge the distance you're in big trouble. (Let's say bring the club back maybe 1/2 to 3/4 swing tops, depending on the length of the shot).
When you take your downswing do not turn your hands over! (keep club face open). Trust the shot. You want to smack that grain of sand with the back of the wedge, coming from outside in with the face pointing at the target/sky. You'll hear that "smack" sound when it hits. (you'll know you did this correctly if after your follow through the butt of your right hand is facing the sky.(wrists didn't turn over, and yes, you MUST follow through.) The ball will pop up and land softly on the green.
Tips To Remember:
1. Make sure you weaken your grip by turning your hands to the left of your usual grip. This prevents your hands from turning over. (just enough so you feel like if you took a full swing you'd be apt to push or slice with that grip.)
2. Focus on that grain of sand and do not take your eyes off of it!
3. Accelerate through the shot and follow through. If you quit on it you'll be doing it all over again on the next shot.
4. Take a few practice swings from the rough before you get into the bunker. (This technique also makes for a nice flop shot out of heavy rough!)
5. Dig in with your feet a good 1/2" or so. This brings you down even lower which helps insure you don't catch it thin.
This shot is one of the easiest to teach. It's a little tricky to describe in words though. (as you can tell)
Master this shot and instead of saying "I suck at these", you'll be saying "can someone pull the pin?" (don't really pull it or you'll be sucking again.)