Better bunker play

By Katherine RobertsNovember 13, 2008, 5:00 pm
Oh the sand! Great when sand is mixed with surfing but not so great when you cant see the flag. Every year I play in a golf tournament called The Scottsdale Media Classic. Fifty to seventy-five golf writers from around the world descend onto Scottsdale for five days of golf and fun.
Last year we played one of my favorite courses, GrayHawk, The Raptor course. I found myself in a very deep bunker. Not only could I not see the cup I could not see the flag. Gary McCord, a friend and client, hosts his golf school, Kostis- McCord at GrayHawk.
I was frustrated and stumped at how to hit this shot. Considering I was playing with a bunch of golf writers (many who had been drinking most of the morning) I decided it was acceptable to give Gary a call on his cell from the bunker.
I asked Gary for his best advice on how to get out of this bunker. His was response was swift and direct. Use your hand wedge Katherine, use your hand wedge! He proceeded to tell me that if I released sand from my left hand at precisely the right time it would appear as if I used the club to hit the ball. Of course Gary was only kidding. Continue reading and I will tell you the outcome of my sand shot.
Learning to hit better bunker shots requires the triad of peak performance - proper swing mechanics, the right club selection and flexibility and strength in the body. For our purposes this week I will focus on the lower body. Good knee flexion (bend in your knees) and the ability to get grounded from your lower body is critical. One physical restriction inhibiting our ability to get grounded is the lack of hamstring flexibility.
The following hamstring series targets not only the hamstrings but the inner thighs, groin, glute and lumbar spine. Note: this series should be practiced every day to help you in the bunker and to release back pain.
Lets get started!
Dynamic to active hamstring stretch:
Begin on your back with a strap placed around your left foot. Extend your right leg and flex both feet towards you. Place a slight bend in your left knee as you inhale, exhale and straighten your left leg. Repeat five times and hold both legs extended for five more breaths.

Adductor / groin stretch:
Keep the right leg and glute on the floor and extend your left leg out to the left. Hold for five more breaths.

Glute / spinal rotation:
Place the strap in your right hand and extend your left arm to the floor. Rotate the lower body to the right and hold for five breaths. Switch sides.

The outcome of my bunker shot:
After my chat with Gary I walked back to the cart to retrieve my sand wedge. I realized at that moment that after years of playing golf I instinctively knew how to hit this shot. As if some guiding force took over my body and mind I became very calm and extremely confident. I let go of the outcome and stepped into the monster bunker. I took a deep breath and blasted the ball out of bunker. To date, that was the best bunker shot of my life!
Send me an e-mail at and share your favorite golf shot! If your story is selected you will win a complimentary, personalized fitness program.
See you on The Turn!

Related Links:
  • Katherine Roberts Article Archive
  • Katherine Roberts Video Archive
  • Health & Fitness Main Page

    Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of and has over 20 years of experience in golf specific fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at
  • Getty Images

    Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated”  while taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

    Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor, he made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

    Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

    Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

    “I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

    Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

    “I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

    Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

    “No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

    Getty Images

    Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

    Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

    “We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

    “I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

    Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

    “Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

    The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

    “We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.

    Getty Images

    Van Rooyen continues links run with impressive 67

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:27 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For Erik van Rooyen familiarity has not bred contempt.

    The South African, like many European Tour players, has been on a links golf odyssey the last three weeks, playing the Irish Open, Scottish Open and this week’s Open Championship in consecutive weeks, and the crash course paid off on Day 1 at Carnoustie when he opened with a 4-under 67 to assure himself a spot among the early leaders.

    Although van Rooyen missed the cut last week just down the coast at Gullane Golf Club, he entered the final round in Ireland with a four-stroke lead.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I didn't pull it off the final day,” said van Rooyen, who closed with a 74 to tie for fourth place. “I still think I played pretty well. I was nervous. That's completely normal, and I'll learn how to deal with that. I'll take that experience into tournaments like this.”

    Van Rooyen, who was alone in second place when he completed his round, began his round with back-to-back birdies and was bogey-free until the last hole. It was just what one would expect from a player who has immersed himself in links golf for the better part of a month.

    “We've been playing nice golf now the last three weeks, so definitely used to the way this course is playing, definitely used to handling the wind,” he said. “So I'll be ready.”