Lesson TeeMarch 20, 2014

Why Justin Owns The Sand

Take a tip from the U.S. Open champion: don't change your swing

Turn your chest through. It should face the target at the finish.

Justin Rose has ranked top 20 on the PGA Tour in sand saves each of the last four years. One reason is, he practices like he plays. A lot of golfers hit from perfect lies in the practice bunker, but not Justin. He throws balls down in the sand, and whatever lie he gets, that's the lie he plays.

I also like that Justin's bunker swing never changes. You might be tempted to compensate for different lies by adjusting your technique—using more or less wrist hinge, entering the sand at a different spot, varying your follow-through—but you'll be more consistent if you eliminate variables. As Justin and I like to say when we work together: You can't control the lie, but you can control the swing. Here's what he focuses on.

First, swing the club on a wide arc back and through. Notice how his club is fully extended and his wrists are quiet as he completes the swing (above). A wide arc like that keeps the radius of the swing constant, so you can predict where the club will touch down.

Second, turn your chest through the shot. If your body keeps rotating and your swing arc doesn't change, you'll make a consistent pass through the sand, with the same loft on the face every time.

GET LEFT

On bunker shots, your weight should be on your front foot when you swing into the sand. To make sure it is, adjust your setup by flaring your front knee toward the target. You'll immediately feel your weight favoring your front side. That will help the club skim through the sand and under the ball. If your weight stays on your back foot, it's a good bet you'll skull the ball over the green.

Sean Foley, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, is based at the Core Golf Junior Academy, outside Orlando.