All About Sand Play
Breaking 100/90/80

All About Sand Play

July 2011
Mark Immelman is one of Golf Digest's Best Teachers in Georgia. He is based at Bull Creek Golf Course in Midland.

Gary Player has been a family friend and mentor to me and my brother, Trevor, and he has inspired a generation of golfers in our native South Africa. The best piece of advice Mr. Player ever gave me was on bunker play. What else, right? The master of the sand told me he learned early on in his career that weekend hole locations on tour were tucked behind bunkers and that to survive he had to get really good from the sand. He says he always thought of hitting bunker shots with the aggressive crispness of striking a match -- an image I use every day in my teaching.

Whatever your level, here are more tips for escaping the sand.

Breaking 100

A good bunker swing generates a lot of clubhead speed. Many high-handicappers lean away from the target on the downswing, trying to help the ball out of the sand. Of course, they don't get much swing speed falling back like that. Here's how to get the speed you need.

Breaking 90

If you're struggling from greenside bunkers, be mindful that the more you cut across the ball from out to in with a wide-open clubface, the more sidespin you impart on it. It's hard to control the starting direction of the shot, and the spin after landing is unpredictable as well. That's why I'm a proponent of a pretty square clubface and a proper swing path through impact.

Breaking 80

Better players should understand how the bounce and belly features of a sand wedge affect trajectory. A club has bounce when the back edge of the sole is lower than the front edge. This causes the club to "bounce" through the sand. When you flatten or lower the shaft, you access the bounce and belly and promote a shallow approach -- two factors that help elevate the ball.
Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today