Bunker shots: common faults

Sand traps strategically located on golf courses emphasize the highlights of a course and represent an opportunity for golfers to hone or show off their skills. Sometimes having a predictable sand shot can be an advantage over hitting from an uncertain rough.  While hitting from the sand can be challenging for some, it also makes the game fun and rewarding. Of course, we all aim to avoid those traps and on some days, without great success! Below are two common mistakes among many that could explain your failed attempts in a sand bunker, plus some tips to help you be more comfortable in the sand.

BOUNCE EFFECT: The explosion shot implies that the propulsion of the sand will in turn propel the ball outside the bunker. To succeed with this shot, you need to use the bounce portion of your wedge and not the leading edge. Be sure to open the face of your golf club at address in order to first lift the leading edge and secondly, during the swing after impact, keep the club head open to prevent any chance of biting into the sand instead of getting the needed bounce.

To perform well with your wedges, let’s ensure that you have the right ones. Two important points to consider are your natural approach angle and


the type of sand trap in which you play most often. Here are two examples: if your divots are deep when you hit your wedges on grass, then select a wedge with a high bounce (14 degrees). If the sand traps are typically very firm, a low bounce (4 to 6 degrees) would be recommended. Don’t hesitate to consult your PGA Professional for any questions related to this topic.

ENTRY POINT: Often enough, the explosion shot is very well executed but, unfortunately, the entry point in the sand was too far behind the ball. One of the most effective exercises to develop a consistent entry point is to learn how to erase a line traced in the sand. The mark produced by the impact of your wedge should be the length of a $5 bill with a point of origin about two inches (5 cm) behind the line.

To succeed with this exercise, you need to discover where the lowest point of your swing momentum is located. After a few tries, you will notice a certain consistency with your entry point. Is it in the middle of your feet, closer to the forward foot, or closer to the back?  Now that you know the initial impact point, draw the line or place the ball two inches in front of that point. Normally, when in the sand, the ball location is played at around the heel of the forward foot. If you have to place it at another location in order to succeed with your shots, an analysis of your technique should then be considered.


By the same author: Your technique… really? (Click the image below)


Daniel Bilodeau15 Posts

Professionnel enseignant en titre / Head teaching professional Station Mont Tremblant, Intrawest


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