Hot List 2008January 3, 2008

Instruction Tips

The basics of the bunker shot

Players who slice the ball are often the best out of sand.

Players who slice the ball are often the best out of sand.

One of the ironic things about the physics of the golf swing is that players who struggle with a slice have all the pieces in place to be great bunker players.

A slicer has the tendency to pick the club up abruptly in the backswing, come over the top and cut across the ball at impact. That's exactly the formula for a good bunker shot. You can learn from that even if you aren't a slicer on your full shots.

Instead of focusing on your stance and setup, open the face on your wedge, and make a steep swing. Pick the club up, then feel as if you're swinging to the left on the way down. You can hit anywhere from an inch to three inches behind the ball and end up with an effective shot.

The wedge you use plays a big role in the success of your bunker game, too. The more bounce a club has (it's denoted by a number in degrees the same way loft is; 12 degrees of bounce is a lot), the more it will skid through the sand. A club with less bounce will tend to dig and is usually a better choice from wet sand or a fairway lie.