The bunker is often one of the most feared places to miss a green for the average golfer, yet when we look at professionals they make it look like a walk in the park. So why is it that the same hazard provides two very different levels of difficulty and fear for each player. Skill is often the most obvious answer, and that certainly has a huge part to play in the shot, but I would also say understanding how the shot should be played has an even bigger role.
The first thing we must think of is the impact and how we want to strike the golf ball. The sand is a very different animal than the grass and we want to approach it in a very different way. The biggest difference when we compare a bunker shot to a shot from grass is where we contact the ground relative to the golf ball. When we play any shot from grass it is important to contact the ball first as the club descends towards the ground. If we catch the ground heavily prior to the ball we will “duff” or “fat” the golf ball. Conversely with a bunker shot we have to contact the sand first, and almost slide the golf club underneath the golf ball. By doing this we can accelerate the club nicely through the sand without sending the golf ball over the green. But what changes can we make to achieve this result?