The Sand Save

by Paul Aitken, CPGA Professional

PGA tour players will often say if they miss a green in regulation they would rather be in a greenside bunker than in the rough.  Their reasoning is that the conditions found in the bunker are usually more consistent than the rough around the green.  The opposite is usually true for amateur golfers.  Having the correct fundamentals will make the greenside bunker shot easier for you to execute.

Most golfers have difficulty hitting the ball out of the sand because they attempt to scoop it out too much with their right hand (right handed golfers), resulting in a short, deep divot.  After several unsuccessful attempts, the tendency is to try to pick the ball out, taking no sand and it soars over the green, leaving the player frustrated and confused.

To play a greenside bunker shot, use your regular grip and take an open stance in the bunker – if you are right handed, aim your feet left of your target.  Next, turn the club in your hands so the face of the club is now pointing towards your target.  Set up with the ball slightly forward of centre in your stance and dig your feet into the sand to establish a solid base.  Next you will want to pick a spot about 1-2 inches behind the ball.  This is where you want your club to enter the sand.  To be consistent with this, one needs to maintain a very quiet upper body.  After striking the sand behind the ball, keep your left arm moving through the sand to a high follow through.

A great drill to use for improving your greenside bunker shots is to draw a line in the sand with the grip end of your club.  Take practice swings focusing on starting your divot right on the line.  The more consistent you become at striking the sand in the same spot behind the ball, the better you will become at controlling your distance.

Good golfing and see you at the course.