Sand Secrets From The Bunker Queen
Photos by Dom Furore
My caddie on the LPGA Tour calls me the "Bunker Queen," so I guess you came to the right place for some tips to get out of the sand. One of my favorite drills teaches you how to use wrist action to produce good bunker shots. I'll explain that below. Another starts by drawing a letter t in the sand, like you see here. I'll show you that one in a bit, too. Before I get to those drills, my first piece of advice is to step into the sand with some attitude. Fear of a bad shot breeds tension, which makes it harder to swing the club freely like you need to in a bunker. If you want to be the Bunker Queen—or Bunker King—you've got to play the part. — With Keely Levins
DRILL NO. 1
Release the wrists
Wrist action is so important for quality bunker shots—it helps get the ball out every time by keeping the clubface open and allowing the club to skim through the sand.
To work on yours, scoop some sand onto the clubface and make a backswing. Your goal is to throw that sand over your shoulder (below, left). You have to make a smooth-and-steady backswing and hinge the wrists at the right moment, or you'll dump the sand too soon. Now make a follow-through and try to throw sand over your shoulder the opposite way. You'll have to smoothly accelerate and let the wrists release at the right moment. This drill is great for wrist action, and it improves your swing's tempo, so it's not too fast or slow.
DRILL NO. 2
Set up with consistency
Getting in the right setup is super important, too. I work on mine by drawing a line that's pointing at the target and another that's perpendicular to it (below). The perpendicular line should be right behind my left heel and the ball, and my stance should be open to the target line. When I hit bunker shots, I want my club to strike the sand at the back of the perpendicular line—in other words, behind the ball.
Make the right noise
Listen for a dull thud when your club hits the sand—that tells you your technique was good. Oh, and one other thing: Untuck your shirt. Sounds crazy, but it will free up your swing. Tell them you got that one from me.