How’s your bunker game? Do you have a hard time escaping greenside bunkers in one? You’re not alone. Many weekend golfers have the same problem. The reason: They either hit too far behind the ball. Or, they hit it cleanly and it sails over the green. Sound familiar?
Here’s a golf tip on bunkers for you: You have to hit just far enough behind the ball to catch the right amount of sand when hitting a shot. Practicing the two-step golf drill below teaches you this skill:
Step 1: The Ladder Golf Drill
Take three balls. Drop one ball in the bunker. Set up to this ball with your SW, pick a spot on the green, and try to hit it short of the spot. Take the second ball and drop it in the bunker.
Set up to the ball with your SW and try to hit the ball long. Take the third ball and drop it in the bunker. Set up to the ball with your sand wedge and try to hit the spot you picked out originally.
You can vary this order if you want. You can hit the first ball short, for example, the second ball in the middle, and then the third shot farther than the second.
Step 2: Use Different Clubs to Hit Bunker Shots
Once you’ve mastered the standard bunker shot with the SW, practice the Ladder Golf Drill with different clubs. You can use any club from the 9-iron to the pitching wedge for this drill. Keep in mind, though, that using different clubs makes the ball roll out more. So, pick out your target accordingly.
The key to this two-step golf drill is that it gets you to practice with a purpose. You’ll squeeze more out of your practice session doing that than just aimlessly hitting one shot after another. That’s a golf tip you can help take your game to the next level.
Tackling the Mid-Rang Bunker Shot: 7 Golf Tips
Some golfers consider a downhill bunker shot the hardest in golfer. They may be right. If it’s not the hardest it’s close to it. Another bunker shot that’s almost as hard is the mid-range (30-40 yards) bunker shot.
With this lie, you-re in between shots. You can’t hit it like a greenside bunker shot and you can’t hit it like a fairway bunker shot. Mis-hit this shot, though, and it can cost you an extra shot or two, like most bunker shots can.
Here are seven keys to hitting this shot:
- Choose your method
- Select your club
- Open your clubface slightly
- Keep the club’s loft throughout the swing
- Play ball forward in your stance
- Aim an inch or so behind the ball
- Throw the sand out of the bunker
Some golfers like to play this shot like a normal pitch shot. They open the clubface slightly to create more loft, then take a normal pitch shot. Others play the shot more like a greenside bunker shot. That’s the method described below.
- Once you’ve decided on the method you’ll use, you need to select the right club. The SW has too much bounce to use in this circumstance. Many golfers use an 8-iron for this shot regardless. Others use a 9-iron for bunkers with a higher lip and a 7-iron for bunkers with lower lips.
- Having chosen your club, you need to open the clubface a bit to create more loft. Take an open stance, play and play the ball forward in your stance, and shift your weight slightly forward. Dig your feet into the sand, which helps with stability. You don’t want to slip when hitting this shot.
- Hit the sand an inch or two behind the sand as you come down and make a nice follow through after impact. Try to keep the loft you created initially throughout impact and into your follow through. It should feel as though you’re throwing the sand out of the bunker and on to the fairway.
While our golf tips will help you make this shot, you should temper your expectations as to the results. It’s not easy hitting the green from 30 to 40 yards out.
So, don’t be discouraged if you need to chip the ball onto the green. That may cost you par, but it beats taking a double or triple bogey on the hole.
Get Up and Down with these 7 Golf Tips
How good are you at getting up and down? Getting up and down refers to a player’s ability to make par or better while missing a green in regulation. Pro golfers—PGA and LPGA—are masters of getting up and down. Their so good at it they seldom miss. It’s a skill you’ll need to perfect If you want to take your game to the next level.
But getting up and down is challenging—especially if your approach shot lands in a deep greenside bunker. Mis-hit the bunker shot and it will cost you dearly. You’ll not only loose a chance to make part but also pack strokes on to your score. The seven golf tips below can help you escape greenside bunkers in one and help improve your ability to break 80.
Here are seven golf tips on how to escape greenside bunkers and get up and down efficiently:
- Select the right club — Choose your club based on the green’s size and distance from you. If the green is small, use a more lofted club. If you have a large green to work with, use a less lofted club. Also, open the clubhead up first to about a 45-degree angle before taking your grip.
Keep in mind that you can use a variety of clubs to hit a bunker shot. Dave Pelz, the short game guru, tells the story of watching Seve Ballesteros use a 2-iron to escape a bunker with a nice soft shot to the pin. Weekend golfers that have trouble getting out of bunkers, however, are better off using a wedge.
- Work your feet into the ground — This move helps you get a feel for the sand. So, know if you have to dig into the send to make the shot. It also gives you a solid base to hit from and keeps you from rocking back and forth during your swing.
Also, play the ball off your front foot and place about 80 percent of your weight on your front foot. This distribution of weight helps you get a nice splash in the sand. Plus, it helps add backspin to the shot
- Use a weak grip — The right grip is critical to hitting a good bunker shot. You want to use a weak grip when hitting a sand shot. This doesn’t mean you use less pressure with your grip. Instead, it refers to the release of the hinge in your wrists.
A weak grip allows an earlier release of your wrist hinge. That causes the ball to go higher and land softly on the green. You also maty want to choke down on the grip a bit for more club control.
- Check your alignment — You must make the necessary alignment adjustments to hit your target. If the ball is on an upward slope, the shot will tend to fly left of the target if you’re right-handed golfer.
The shot will tend to fly right If you’re a left-handed golfer. If the ball is sitting on a downslope, align your shoulders with the contour of the bunker. So, your back shoulder will be higher than the front.
- Use an outside-in swing pattern — This swing pattern is critical with bunker shots. It boosts loft, which helps the ball gain trajectory. Also, use a slight bend in your wrists at the top of the swing.
How far back you go depends on the length of swing. The farther away you are from the green, the more you the need to go back. How far back you go on your swing depends on your distance from the green.
- Make a full follow-through — A full follow-through ensures the shot has enough steam to drive the ball out of the bunker. This move is especially critical when hitting from deep bunkers or pot bunkers.
Also, stay down longer through impact. That helps your follow-through. And don’t decelerate through your shot, as many weekend golfers do. If you decelerate your swing or stop it just after impact, you won’t get the ball out of the bunker.
- Learn to add spin to your shot — You may want to add spin to the ball if the green is not holding shots that day or you face a difficult pint placement. Without backspin, you could roll across the green and into the rough or another greenside bunker.
Instead, you want to slip your wedge’s blade through the sand quickly and close to the ball. This propels the ball through the air while the clubface drags the sand behind it. Your first job, however, is to learn how to escape a bunker in one.
In addition to these physical golf tips, you also want to have the right mindset when hitting bunker shots. If you approach these shots with fear, you’ll leave the ball in the bunker. Instead, approach sand shots with confidence. One way to gain that type of confidence is to practice, practice, practice.
Mastering these golf tips will help you get up and down after hitting into a bunk. Doing that boosts your chances of saving par, increases your confidence in your game, and cuts strokes from your score and golf handicap. If you’re serious about breaking 80, you’ll learn to master to get up and down with proficiency.