For most amateur players, falling into a bunker is often a nightmare. This time we refer to the bunkers that are close to the green. In most cases, sand traps are seen as the worst place the ball can end up.
But for professionals golfers, the story is another. England's Luke Donald, Spanish Severiano Ballesteros, Gary Player from South Africa, and Americans Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth are among those who have best-mastered bunker shots in golf history. Many of them even find an advantage when hitting the ball from the sand and not from other places around the green.
Donald's is a particular case: there was a moment in his career where he was the absolute leader with his shots from the bunker: Between 2010 and 2012, he topped the statistics of sand saves on the European Tour, something that he had already achieved between 2009 and 2010 on the PGA Tour. His achievement coincided with the most extraordinary milestone of his career: being number 1 in the world.
Donald spent 56 weeks at the top of the rankings but could never win a major tournament. He, likewise, continues to be one of the principal references of English golf.
The Importance of the Short Game
Let's call things by their name: many fans pay more attention to their long game when playing golf. And this is a severe mistake. It's best to balance your focus between short game and hitting the irons, woods, and driver.
For now, this situation does not surprise anyone. Most beginners prefer to spend hours on the driving range, perfecting their long game and giving little time to short game and putter. Many even forget to practice their shots from the bunker, as if it were a circumstance not present on a golf course.
It is essential to know how to make the critical golf shots, whether a chip, a hit with the driver or a take out of the bunker.
Hitting A Bunker Shot
Hitting the ball in a bunker is not as simple as it sounds, but it can be. The fundamental thing is to know what shot to make, depending on how the ball lies is. It may have a good lie, or it may directly be buried. And it is from your position that we will decide what type of shot to make.
We start with the following situation: if you are in a bunker near the green, you will face a shot where you will not hit the ball directly but will hit the sand.
What is the secret to getting it right? Very simple. The key is to hit the ball a couple of inches behind the ball and pass the club under it, crossing the face of the wedge through the sand, letting the sand lift the ball into the air.
It seems very simple, but it is good to know that you can consider the following tips to add solidity to your shots from the sand:
- Use more rebound and more minor leading edge with your sand wedge: this requires a higher shot, so the club can slide better without digging into the sand. Choosing the proper bounce for your wedge is critical to making this happen.
- If you need a little more distance, hit closer to the ball: we often have to travel a long distance from the bunker. If that's the case, try to hit closer to the ball.
- If you go high in your shot from the bunker, open the clubface: and also open your legs a little more, so you can swing more fluidly and under the ball.
- Never stop your swing from the bunker: a recurring mistake made by fans is to control your swing at the moment of impact. The important thing is to focus and finish as high as possible.
- Taking a full swing allows you to have a better rhythm: if it is a problem of long shots, the recommendation is to make the swing as complete as possible, slowly remove the club and keep your eyes on the ball.
- The ball's position: In most cases, it is best if the ball is in the center of your stance. Now, if this does not allow you to hit the ball behind, perhaps it is best to move it a little further forward, near your left foot.
One more piece of advice from Luke Donald
Luke Donald says that to become a successful bunker player, the important thing is to always use the rebound on the club's sole. Of course, to achieve this, you need special preparation. This means putting the ball forward into stance, tilting the shaft back, allowing for more angle of rebound and a more open clubface loft at all times.
With these tips, we invite you to spend more time shooting from the bunker on your next visit to your golf club's driving range. When you later go on the course to play with friends or compete in a club tournament, you will find that falling into a bunker, you'll have more tools to defend yourself and make a good shot.