Enter Sandman

Posted on: November 11th, 2012 by Jeff Ritter No Comments


There’s a new attitude for hitting the beach this summer. In this breakthrough story, I’ll show you how the next generation of players are tackling one of the game’s most difficult shots with ease.

Face Open/Body Square

You’ve probably been told to play bunker shots with an open stance and to make an out-to-in swing to hit a soft, high spinner. Although this method can work, the unusual set-up alignments and perspective to the target makes this technique nothing but a big mess for most players. The great news is that you don’t have to make these awkward adjustments to hit this shot. An easier way is to address the ball as you normally would, with your body aligned squarely to the target.

In a practice setting, draw a line in the sand directly back from your ball indicating a straight line of flight to your target. Next, draw a second line perpendicular to the ball as if to create the corner of a square. Set up with your body square to your target line with your lead heel on the perpendicular line. This will ensure that your ball is set a bit forward in your stance to ensure sand first contact. Finally, open the face on your sand wedge so that the “scoring lines” on the face point just to the inside of your front foot. This adds bounce to the face regulating the depth of your divot allowing for a nice shallow cut.

The key here is to understand that the ball basically goes where the sand goes, so even though the face is set a bit open the ball won’t jump way to the right as you might imagine. Your success is predicated upon getting a consistent strike into the sand a little behind the ball with a club face that doesn’t dig. The easiest way for this to occur is to simplify your effort with a more common set-up alignment and swing away!


Build a practice station

Play from a square body alignment to simplify your effort

Steep Body/Shallow Hands

In bunker play, it’s important to create a consistent strike into the sand just behind the ball. One way of accomplishing this is to create a slightly steeper angle of attack. To assist in your effort, make sure that your body is set in a “steep” position as if to create a relatively sharp downward strike. Accomplish this feeling by placing your left hand on your left knee (right handed golfer) and leaning well towards the target. Once the body is set, position your hands in a “shallowing” position, by drawing the handle away from the target. Shallow hands will set up an attitude where the head is encouraged to swing past the handle into the hit, utilizing the club’s “bounce,” regulating the depth of strike. With a steepened body and corresponding shallow hand position you’ll be able to create perfect contact.


Left hand on left leg/feel the lean

Draw the handle away from the target

Bunker Play – Wide and Low

An often missed fundamental in bunker play, is widening the stance and getting low with the handle and legs into the set-up. A common adjustment for all great bunker players, getting low will help to create maximum loft, a shallow cut of sand and a shot that is high, soft and spinning!


Widen your stance and dig in with your feet for stability

Lower the knees and handle of the club towards the ground

Fold It Up

Since you are essentially creating your normal swing shape it’s imperative that we still get some of the steepness into the strike that is commonly associated with the old school “out to in” effort. To do this simply think of your swing as being a bit narrower back and through. In the back swing let go of the notion that you need a straight left arm and instead allow the arms to fold drawing your hands in close to your body. On the follow through forget about any ideas about creating extension and allow the arms to fold in close here as well. By narrowing your swing arc you’ll be able to steepen your hit without having to vary your natural swing shape!


Soften arms at address

Allow arms to fold close to the body back and through

Throw vs Drag

In golf instruction you often hear how important it is to compress the ball by delivering a shaft that is leaning towards the target into the hit. This attitude where the head lags behind the handle is commonly known as “drag.” In the sand, however, your impact alignment should be different actually encouraging just the opposite head/handle relationship. As you swing from the sand try to feel some “throw.” This is a sensation where you are intentionally trying to throw the club head past the handle into the strike. As the club head passes the handle, the “bounce” of the club will be more exposed to the sand, creating maximum loft while regulating the depth of dig. This move is a bit more advanced, but is a very common feel used by top players when hitting lob shots or bunker shots where the goal is to create contact that is high, soft and spinning!


Arms fold inward into the back swing

Throw sensation into the hit

Goal is consistency in the point of entry with shallow cut of sand

For more information on JRG and “Make The Turn” Click Here. 

Content originally seen in GolfInfuzion Magazine.

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