Make The Turn Challenge #7: Bunker Blast
By Jeff Ritter
One of the most fun things you can do on a golf course is hit a sweet bunker shot. No other shot in the game is quite like it. The way you dig your feet in, open the face, splash through the sand and “intentionally” miss the ball, all make it such a unique part of the game. In addition, there’s really no feeling like experiencing the bounce of the club smack the earth as you produce a high, soft spinner that hunts down the cup.
As a junior golfer, I was a bit undersized and didn’t hit the ball as far as the other kids. As a result, I spent a lot of time trying to close the gap by developing a staunch short game. Chipping, pitching and putting seemed tedious to me and got boring really fast. Bunker shots, however, were different. I loved splashing sand and seeing the ball check up. Hitting great bunker shots to me were the ultimate expressions of fearlessness and freedom. Whereas most people would cringe seeing their ball roll into the sand, I saw it as an opportunity to have fun. The more I practiced, the better I got, to the point where my “identity” as a player became that I was pretty darn good out of the sand.
As a kid, this was huge. Whereas before I felt inferior to my fellow players because of my lack of distance, I now had a renewed sense of inner confidence in knowing that I had a unique skill that few other kids my age had. Instead of feeling behind the curve, I now thought of myself as having the advantage. I knew I wasn’t going to be a little guy forever, so when my growth spurt hit, I felt like I’d be a much more skilled player because of my superior short game.
I started studying other really good bunker players like Tom Watson and Gary Player. When practicing I’d try to mimic their technique, tempo and mannerisms, which is a great way to learn anything. In this video it’s no coincidence that I’m wearing all black as I’m paying homage to Gary Player who is also known as “The Black Knight!” This was a really fun challenge to shoot and it brought back a lot of memories of good times growing up at the golf course.
Great bunker play is largely rooted in attitude. It’s about developing a sense of freedom and trust which ultimately lead to having more command over your game. This challenge is all about determination, so set aside an hour, dig in and really get get focused. Commit to practicing until you hole out just one bunker shot and you can count your bunker blast challenge as complete.
Better Bunker Play
Jeff Ritter is the founder of MTT Performance, which operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif.