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Don't let anxiety, poor setup ruin your bunker play

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Most amateurs are afraid of bunkers, while most professionals welcome the challenge. And there’s a reason why.

A professional has practiced for countless hours in bunkers, hitting from all types of lies.

Additionally, they understand how the sand wedge was designed and how to use it.

So, to help lessen your anxiety, let’s first discuss the sand wedge.

It was designed by Gene Sarazen in the late 1920’s. He was invited by Howard Hughes to fly in his airplane and was fascinated as he watched the flaps of the plane affect its flight.

Being a hunter, Sarazen also observed ducks land in a pond and glide on top of the water. How could he make a golf club glide through the sand, rather than dig into it?

Sarazen soldered some lead on the bottom of his club, creating “bounce,” meaning the back of the club, looking at the sole, is lower than the front of the clubhead.

This is the most important ingredient to understand. The “bounce” prevents the club from digging, which then makes it easier for it to slide under the ball, skim through the sand, and propel the ball out.

Now, let’s discuss the setup for a successful bunker shot. When you are in sand, remember these three keys:

• Do not lean your hands too far in front of the clubhead. This move takes the “bounce” off the club, exposing the leading edge of the club instead.

• Lighten your grip pressure. You need to swing the club with little tension and with speed so that the club “thumps” through the sand.

• The ball should be middle to forward in your stance. Your feet should be normal width apart.

When you are in the bunker and ready to swing, remember these three keys:

• Make a full backswing; not a short, low backswing.

• Hit the sand about three inches behind the ball.

• Swing to a full finish; mimic your full swing motion.

Recognize that the sand wedge was designed for bunker play, create a proper setup and swing normally. The ball will come out successfully.

And set aside some time to practice your sand shots every time you go to the range. This will help you feel more confident and comfortable.

Take an online lesson with Kevin Sprecher.