Hitting greenside bunker shots might strike fear in some golfers. Common problems can include heavy shots that results in the ball staying in the bunker, or the dreaded thin shot that causes your ball to soar 20 yards over the green. Here I will explain how to properly hit those greenside bunker shots so you can turn a weakness in your game into a strength.
First and foremost, the most important part of the greenside bunker shot is your setup. First assess the lie you have in the bunker. For this bunker demonstration I have a good lie, where the ball is sitting up above the sand. For this shot I have my ball position in the centre of my stance with my weight evenly distributed between my feet. Also, I have my stance slightly open to the target as if I were going to hit a small fade while keeping the clubface aimed at my target. This will make it easier for you to swing a little steeper into the ball so you can make better contact with the sand.
We also do not want to set up squarely to the ball as this will make It harder to steepen our attack angle while swinging on the correct path.
Make sure not to open your stance too much in the setup as this will cause you to swing too far to the left which will
cause poor contact, ball direction, and loss of power.
Lastly, our finish should have a nice body turn with the clubface pointing upwards towards the sky and the shaft more inline with our arms. This signifies that we did not flip our wrist through the shot or rotate the club over during our swing. Make sure you fully commit to the swing and power through your shot. Decelerating can lead to the ball staying in the bunker.
Make sure not to flip your wrist through the swing as this signifies a loss in wrist angle through impact, which can lead to heavy shots, or the club hitting the ground and bouncing into the ball when the sand is firm, leading to thin shots. Also, make sure not to rotate the club over during the swing as this will deactivate the bounce on your club, which can lead to digging into the sand.
Note that club selection is very important for greenside bunker shots. Here I am using a Taylormade 60-degree High Toe wedge with 12 degrees of bounce on it. Clubs with low bounce and loft will make it difficult to hit a proper greenside bunker shot. Here, I am demonstrating the proper way to open your clubface in the bunker to activate the bounce on your club so you can glide through the sand and keep the leading edge from digging into the ground. Also, do not keep your clubface too square to the ball as this will not allow you to utilise the bounce on our club and will promote the leading edge.
You may have noticed the circle drawn around the ball. This is a visual drill that I use for bunker shots. Draw a circle around your ball leaving sand a few inches behind your ball. This is where you should enter the sand with your club to promote good contact. If we enter too far behind the sand, we will lose power in our swing, resulting in the ball staying in the bunker. Too far forward and you will catch the ball first, resulting in the ball going too far.