Unless you left the cold winter weather for Florida or Arizona, the only sand you’ve encountered the past few months was indoors somewhere. That’s about to change, we hope, so it’s never too early to think about improving your bunker play.
Bob Beach, the longtime professional at Braintree Municipal Golf Course, was recently named one of the top 50 growth of the game teaching professionals by the Golf Range Association of America. He says the most important ingredient to improving your bunker shots is convincing yourself that you will.
“The first thing you have to do to become a good bunker player is believe that you are a good bunker player, and that when you enter a sand trap you are brimming with confidence. After all, it is the only shot where you don’t hit the golf ball. The force of the sand is what actually lifts the ball out of the bunker, so the golfer does not have to be as precise with impact as required with many shots.
“When entering a bunker with your new positive attitude, the first thing you must do is play the ball forward in your stance and place the head of your sand wedge on its back, just above the actual sand. When you do this you are setting the club in a position that will allow you to use the bounce of the wedge. When you use the bounce of the wedge, you can splash the sand out of the bunker. The ball will come out with the sand. The bounce of the sand wedge is like a rudder that splashes through the sand. No digging allowed.
“The last fundamental of good bunker play is you must keep the open clubface moving all the way to a high finish. You have to finish the swing every time. This is necessary due to the fact that you are contacting the sand behind your golf ball. The sand is a tremendous cushion, so you need to take a good cut at it. You can’t be slowing down. You will need between 65 to 75 miles per hour swing speed for the ball to come out with the sand. If you are using the bounce, you will hear a thumping sound from the bounce of the sand wedge splashing through the sand.”