Breaking 100June 13, 2011

Basic Technique: Start Left and Stay Left

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 (above, left). Of course, they don't get much swing speed falling back like that.

Here's how to get the speed you need. Play the ball just forward of center, with your stance slightly open and your sternum more over your left foot. Add a little flex to your left knee, and bend more toward the ball from your hips.

Maintain these positions as you make what feels like an arms-only swing (Your body will automatically turn). Staying on your left side, accelerate the club through the sand (above, right). Swing to a full finish, and check it by seeing if you can lower the shaft and rest it on your left shoulder.

Immelman

WHEN IN DOUBT, PLAY AWAY FROM THE HOLE

When golfers trying to break 100 face a bunker shot over a high lip, they're bringing a big number into play. They usually swipe at the ball a few times trying to blast it out, but because they don't generate enough clubhead speed to get the ball up that fast, it's almost impossible. The prudent play is to aim away from the flag (right).

stat fact

Find a lower edge of the bunker where you're confident that even if you fail to execute the shot perfectly, you'll still get the ball out of the sand. Another key here is committing and staying committed to the shot. Just because you're hitting away from the hole, don't feel as if you're copping out -- you won't hit a good shot with that mind-set.

Even if playing safe leaves you with a pitch or chip for your next shot, it's much better than the frustration -- and the disaster on your scorecard -- that comes from a series of failed attempts from the sand.