PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

Short Game

The Easy Way To Hit The Hardest Shot

By Ben Crane Photos by J.D. Cuban
June 07, 2012

If there's a bunker 50 yards from a green, don't hit into it! A long sand shot is golf's hardest shot, partly because so many theories abound on how to play it. I've heard them all: Pick the ball clean; swing harder and strike the ball down into the sand; nip just a tiny amount of sand under the ball, and on and on. With so much information out there, it can be hard to commit to one strategy. I've found the easiest technique is to use a 7-iron and execute as if it were a normal greenside explosion shot. The strong loft takes care of the distance, and impact doesn't have to be perfect. Just like in a greenside bunker, aim your body left and settle into a wide, stable stance. Open the clubface as with a sand wedge, and grip down. Because a 7-iron sole has almost zero bounce, effectively add more by leaning the shaft back until your hands are behind the ball (1). At the top of the backswing, your only thought is clubface points to the sky (2). It's OK to do this manually by hinging your wrists a little extra, but with a weak grip (hands turned more toward the target at address) it should happen naturally. Because a 7-iron clubhead is lighter than a sand wedge, it can feel odd going through the sand, but you need to aggressively explode the shot. Have the club enter the sand two inches behind the ball, and let the clubhead speed forward (3). Hope to hit the green, and vow never to end up in this situation again.

Ben Crane won the 2011 McGladrey Classic for his fourth PGA Tour victory.