Don’t Fear the Sand Traps
Many golfers, men and women alike, fear hitting the golf ball from those dreaded sand traps. Most golfers, if they knew the proper technique, wouldn’t stress hitting the sand trap shot and actually would like facing that challenge occasionally.
There are a variety of sand shots that the golfer must learn to hit such as: up hill lie, down hill lie, plugged lie, long bunker shots, greenside bunker shots, hard sand and so on. But for now, we’re going to focus on the greenside bunker from a relatively flat lie, with the ball sitting up on top of the sand. This is what I call the simple bunker shot.
The first goal for every golfer hitting from a sand trap should be to get the ball out and onto the green consistently. There is nothing worse than having to hit from the sand trap two times in a row! When a golfer can hit the ball out on the first attempt, then they can start worrying about getting it closer to the hole.
Before attempting to hit the sand shot, make sure you’re using a sand wedge. Trying to hit out of the sand without one is like eating soup with a fork-very difficult. Now for the setup.
First open your stance, and play the ball somewhere forward of center, close to your left foot for the right handed golfer. Then open the club face or turn it to the right. Now, even though your body is aimed left of the target, swing the club along the same direction as your body line. The club face turned open will compensate for this and the ball should come out to the right of where your body is aligned.
The one mistake I see most often from sand trap fearing golfers is they try to hit the golf ball without hitting the sand. Actually, the opposite is true, and the key to hitting good sand trap shots is not hitting the ball at all. But instead, hitting the sand behind and underneath the ball, which then pushes/carries the ball out like it was riding on a pillow. When I am hitting this shot, I try to envision the ball sitting on the middle of a dollar bill. I then try to hit enough sand to scoop out the length of that dollar, in other words, you should hit about 2-3 inches behind the ball and down deep enough to come out about 2-3 inches in front of where the ball was sitting.
When hitting this shot, don’t be afraid to take a three-quarter swing or more. The sand will act like a buffer between the club face and the ball will come out softly. The best advice for this swing would be to hit the shot with enough force necessary to throw a handful of sand onto the green.
With a little practice using the correct technique, this shot will no longer cause you trepidation, but instead give you the confidence to escape the sand with ease.