If you hit a long ball, even if you only aspire to, you are bound to miss a green or two. To score low it is imperative to have the ability to get up and down from a green side bunker.
Bob McArthur, Head Teaching Professional at Heritage Pointe Golf Course in Calgary, Alberta, is my swing coach, and here are some tips from him that will help you shave strokes off your game.
McArthur works out bunker fears with his students by running through a 3-point system.
1. Ball Position: Think of the greenside bunker shot as a modified pitch with the main difference being the ball position.
Instead of the ball being 3-4 inches inside your front heel, play the ball directly across from your front heel. This will allow the club to enter the sand behind the ball. The club can enter anywhere from 1 to 6 inches behind the ball.
2. Weight/Set-Up: You must set your body weight on your front side and keep it there throughout the entire shot. If your weight falls to your back foot at anytime throughout the swing, you’ll hit too far behind the ball and leave it in the bunker.
3. Length of Swing: When the club goes through the sand there is more resistance than through the grass. The sand slows the club down as it goes through. To compensate for this, your swing must be much longer than if off the grass.
Make sure to not only increase the length of your back swing but also the length of your follow through. Don’t stop your club as it goes through the sand.
In addition to giving players the knowledge and understanding of bunker basics McArthur likes to have students use a drill that includes using a series of lines that can be drawn into the sand, as shown in the photo.
- Draw your Target Line first. This should be a 2-3 foot straight line drawn beside the ball extending toward where you want the ball to land (your target).
- Draw your Feet Line. This line should be parallel to the Target Line and should be the same length.
- Draw a Ball Position Line. This should be a straight perpendicular line from the ball towards the Feet Line. Where the two lines intersect is where the heel of your front foot should be placed.
- Draw a Reference Line. This should be a straight line, 1 foot in length, drawn 6 inches behind the ball. Your club should enter between the ball and the Reference Line. If your divot starts behind that line your weight is on your back foot either in your set-up or in the swing.
- Set your feet up along the Feet Line remembering to put your front heel on the Ball Position Line. Also, keep in mind to have your weight on your front side throughout the swing and use a longer back swing and follow through.
- Hit a shot and check to see if the ball went towards your intended target and if you made contact with the sand between the Reference. Line and the ball.
- Continue to draw these lines for each shot until you feel comfortable getting the ball on the green. Remember this drill is for practice only. You cannot ground your club or draw reference lines in a bunker when playing a round of golf.
Enjoy your time at the beach this summer!
By: Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk
Lisa is the 7-time Canadian Long Drive Champion for women, a golf entertainer and a motivational speaker. Lisa can be reached through Claudio (The Traveling Golfer) at firstname.lastname@example.org