Get It to the Hole
I’m going to teach you a simple way to regulate distance with your sand shots around the greens. Before we get to that, let me ask you an important question (your answer might help explain things if you’re inconsistent from the bunker): When you address a ball in the sand, what are you looking at? It never ceases to amaze me how many students tell me they’re staring down at the ball when they swing. Remember, you’re trying to strike the sand behind the ball—not the ball. When you stare at the ball, there’s a good chance you’ll hit too closely to it, or even strike it, and it’s going to rocket out of the sand or slam into the lip. You’ve got to focus on a spot two or three inches behind the ball.
Back to the issue at hand—controlling distance from a greenside bunker. No matter how far you are from the hole, you should swing with enough effort so that some grains of sand reach the cup.
If you do that, you’ll find the effort of your swing corresponds well with how far the ball travels. Longer bunker shots require more effort to get the sand to the hole. It’s as simple as that.
This also is a great tip to get you to accelerate the club through the sand and finish the swing, something many amateurs struggle with in fear of hitting the ball too far. If you try to move the sand, you have to commit to the proper full finish. --with Ron Kaspriske
DAVID LEADBETTER is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.