The dreaded bunker shot. We have all been standing in the fairway thinking, “I would rather be anywhere but in the sand.” We try to aim our shots to avoid the greenside bunkers and where does our ball land? In the bunker. Walking up to the bunker shot, we have a million things running through our head. Open of the blade. Keep your head down. Hit behind the ball. Make it thump. Don’t chunk it. Don’t blade it. Just get it out of the damn bunker!
Anywhere on the green is fine, we just need to get it out. If you have water or OB behind the green you are almost guaranteed to blade or skull it and lose at least two strokes. Unfortunately, when you hit it OB you have to drop it in the same bunker that just ate your lunch. So, why is it that we always skull or blade a 56 or 60 degree wedge out of the bunker?
The most common reason you are hitting the middle of the ball in the bunker is because you don’t have the technique to hit the sand behind and under the ball. The only way you are going to do this is to hinge your wrists. Phil Mickelson teaches you to hinge and hold. This is different from forward pressing. Hinging is moving your hand away from the outside of your arm. When you do this, it creates an angle with your wedge that allows you to thump the sand.
It took me about two years to finally figure out how to hit a bunker shot. The first thing you need to accept is the fact that you are going to swing hard. You cannot half swing or decelerate into the ball and hope to get it out of the bunker. As hard as you swing your driver is as hard as you need to swing to hit a bunker shot. You will see Jason Day and Justin Rose take a full swing to hit a proper bunker shot.
It you learn to hinge your wrists and swing harder you will be able to properly hit a bunker shot and not skull it every time. There will be times when you don’t catch enough sand and you hit the ball too far but this is much better than blading it 100 yards over the green.
Note that this technique also works for fairway bunker shots but you will need to get the ball more cleanly rather than trying to take as much sand. If you are more than 80 yards away from the green you will basically need to pick the ball off the sand depending on any type of lips issues.
Do you find that you struggle in the bunkers? Are you skulling the ball every time you try to hit a greenside bunker shot? How have you fixed this problem?