Golf - Getting To Grips With Bunker Shots
If you are hacking around in the bunker and wondering how on earth to master this particular golfing problem then this article could just save your bacon as we reveal the secret to getting you out of the bunkers quickly and easily.
A bunker, also known as a trap, is an area of ground, often a small natural depression, from which the turf has been removed and replaced with sand, water or tall grass. Where a bunker crosses the line of play it is often referred to as a cross bunker.
The secret to tackling a bunker shot is to establish a solid base with a firm footing that will support your swing without slipping. In establishing this firm base however you must be careful not to dig your feet in too well or you will make your legs rigid and encourage too strong a shot. The essence lies in keeping your lower body still with very little movement in your legs.
You should stand with your weight favoring your left side (unless you're a left-hander in which case you should favor your right side) and your stance should be opened and a little wider than normal to restrict your backswing and also to steepen your swing. You should also turn your knees in slightly, so that you have more weight on the inside of your feet.
As with all golf shots you should have a firm, but light grip. If your grip is too tight your wrists will become rigid and you'll find it hard to slide the club under the ball and into the sand. You should also move your grip slightly farther down the club shaft than normal, about half an inch will be enough, as this will not only make it easier to hit the ball, but will also discourage you from burying your feet in the sand. Finally, hinge your wrists slightly earlier than you would normally to encourage a steeper angle of attack on your downswing.
When it comes to your swing, shorten your backswing by about one quarter and mirror this three-quarter swing on your follow-through. In a bunker shot your aim is not to hit the ball with the club head but, instead, to aim for a point about two to three inches behind the ball so that you scoop up some sand which, in turn, makes contact with the ball and shoots it up and out of the bunker.
If you're taking your shot on an uphill slope of the bunker be careful to keep your shoulders level and avoid the tendency to tilt them with the slope. If you are taking a shot on a downhill slope of the bunker, open your stance a little, steepen your backswing and swing slightly more aggressively. Be careful not to close the face of the club and accelerate through the ball.
If you're having trouble with bunker shots then he are a couple of exercises to try.
Put a tee in the sand so that just the top is visible. Then put a ball on the tee and try hitting the tee about halfway down its length. This will help you to focus on getting under the ball.
Next, draw a straight line in the sand with the handle of the bunker rake and stand so that you are straddling the line with it slightly left of center. Then practice making swings to splash the sand forward with your club head hitting the sand on the line. Once you are consistently hitting the line, put a ball down a couple of inches to the left of the line and continue your practice.
As with everything else, the secret to a good bunker shot lies in a sound technique and plenty of practice. If you spend a bit of time practicing bunker shots not only will you find that your score goes down, but your level of frustration will also go down.
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