RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links


Play It Up More Than You Think

By Hank Haney Photos by Dom Furore
December 30, 2009

Focus on setup: For bunker shots, lay the face open and play the ball off your left heel.

The standard advice you always hear about playing a basic greenside bunker shot -- play the ball forward in your stance and open the clubface -- is the right information.

Even though most players know that, they still underestimate just how much of a change in the setup they need to produce consistent shots from the sand. Don't just move the ball an inch or two forward from center. Play it even with your left heel. It's basically the same ball position you should use when hitting your driver. And you need to rotate the clubface significantly open at address -- so that the back of the clubhead would be resting on the sand if you put it down.

At first, this setup might feel a lot different from what you're used to, but get those two fundamentals down, and the club will almost automatically enter the sand in the right spot. And it'll slide through the sand instead of dig.




One common problem junior players have is generating clubhead speed. Usually the issue is that they aren't very big, and to be competitive in their age group, they need more distance.

To turn up the speed, a player's natural temptation is to try to make a bigger body move -- shifting all over the place instead of keeping the body centered and turning around a steady axis.

This causes a couple of problems. First, it doesn't really create more power. Speed comes in part from a good upper-body coil -- the chest turning independent of the hips. Smaller players will feel they can control the club better with more body action, but it won't make the swing faster. It's also harder to return to impact consistently when you shift your body off the ball. And when it comes to distance, there's no substitute for solid contact.

Juniors -- or any player, really -- should try to turn within the space they occupy at address, instead of shifting unnecessarily. Another big help is making sure your clubs aren't too long or too heavy.

Hank Haney, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, runs the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head.