Playing from the SAND

There are different options in the sand. Bunkers require club speed, loft, and entry point control.  The main 2 shots are either from a fairway bunker where you are looking to get out and go a distance or from the green side bunker where you are looking for higher, softer, and shorter distance.  For the fairway bunker you are looking to have the club collide with the ball first just like off the fairway.  That way the energy is transmitted to the ball without any interference.  As for the green side bunker the club enters the sand first and the sand transmits the energy to the ball so there is a loss of energy.  This is similar to the rough where the ball comes out slower.  Lets take a look at a few scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Taking out the PINK box.  If you are trying to help the ball out of the bunker your club could be landing too far behind the ball.  With this the club is going through the sand then coming out before it even reaches the ball.  The club head will probably hit the top or the middle of the ball and the ball will not come out.

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Scenario 2:  Taking out the blue box.  In this situation you have to remove a lot of sand before getting to the ball.  This will need to have a lot of speed to remove that amount of sand.  Then by the time the club gets to the ball there will not be much energy or if you catch it towards the end the box the blade can come in contact with the blade.  This usually results in the ball staying in the bunker.

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Scenario 3:  Taking out the green box.  This is ideal for a green side bunker shot.  The goal is to remove a sliver of sand and have the ball be in the middle of that splash.  Think of it as a piece of toast in size and would be the same depth and length.  This would result in more predictable shots for your golfing career.  Again remember the more sand you take the more speed you need.  Also the less energy is transferred to the ball.  That means if one shot you take is 1/2″ deep and the next is 2″ deep the difference of energy transfer varies.

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Scenario 4:  Taking out the red box.  This is ideal if you are trying to advance the ball a good distance just like from the fairway.  The club will interact with the ball and the energy transfer is not slowed down by sand or grass.  If that red box was too far forward then the club head has a high potential of colliding with the middle of the ball and would result in a bladed shot or if it is higher up a topped shot.  The goal is to have the club touch the ball then the sand so the loft will get it out.

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For green side bunker shots I like the 2nd from top ball.  The white line is your target line, the grey line is your entry point, and the ball if just ahead of that.  when training draw these lines so your body does not get too open and you can have feedback from where the club entered the sand.

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Backswing Drill: Medicine Ball

Would like to share with you a good drill for the backswing.  This uses a medicine ball or weighted object to give you the feeling of what the body should be doing to move the weight or club back and through in a golf swing.  For the YouTube video link Click Here.

Step 1:  Put the weighted object in front of you with bent arms.  4-8 pounds is all you need.  The weight is there to give you a sensation not a workout.

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Step 2:  Turn the weight into your backswing.  As you can see I kept the weight in front of the chest and kept the arms in very similar positions as they were at setup.  It was moved back with the body.

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We do not want to see the hips sliding over the rail foot like below.  As you can see that just moves the weight side to side instead of in a circle.  Could do this with the body and pull my right elbow back but remember arms are trying to stay in the same position as setup.

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Step 3: From the backswing position rotate onto the lead foot and support the weight out in front of the body.  You will learn how to push the hips forward and keep the chest back to counter balance the weight as it is out in front of the lead foot.  Also notice the trail toe is in the ground and you can see the bottom of the shoe from down the line.

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This can also be done with a club out in front of you but will not give the weighted feel but can give you the rotation feel.  Also notice that I kept my right and left hands the same distance away from my shoulders.  In the backswing the shaft is tilted with the shoulders and the grip is pointing down to the ground.

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Attack Angle

This article is mostly going to cover attack angle on a stock mid range wedge.  For the YouTube clip Click Here.  In the wedge game you can get away with a low point in front of the ball, at the ball, or slightly behind which would be a club landing slightly behind the ball.  That is as long as the club is coming down like an airplane that is going to do a touch and go instead of one that is too steep and would crash.  For a stock shot it is good to have an attack angle from 4-10*.  The reason for this is to reduce the amount of interference between ball and club.  Also when you are in the rough the steeper attack angle will not have to go through as much grass as a shallower club.  Less interference will help create more friction, launch the ball lower, and increase the spin on a stock shot.

Now let’s take a look at a drill that will give you instant feedback.  Place a golf ball 1 grip behind the ball you are going to strike.  The goal is to land the club in a manner that the club will miss the back ball and not dig into the ground.  Sounds easier than it is if you are someone that has a tendency to want to try to help the ball in the air.

Below on the left is a successful attempt and the one on the right was not.  At shaft parallel to the ground you will notice that the butt of the club is closer to being over the ball on the left.  That is setting up the steepness needed.  When doing this drill or hitting my stock shot I feel as if I am going to miss the ball 2-3″ in front of the ball.

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As the club starts to release to be shallow through the turf strike the handle is now in front of the ball.

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Drawing a circle around that point you will see that the low point, where the yellow line is, varies.  On the left it is in front of the ball and on the right it is slightly behind.  If the back ball was not there I might have gotten away with the right shot.  The more grass behind the ball would have shown the club down more and more as well as reducing the amount of speed transferred to the ball.

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On the left the club is slightly pass the yellow line, or low point, and starting to travel slightly up.  The orange arrow is from where the ball started and where it is going.  You can see that on the left side of the circle the club was still traveling down and through.  A lot of golfers do not understand this and they want to try and help the ball in the air not trusting the club to do the work.

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Outside of shorter wedge shots we are looking for the left image more consistently.  The reason is that on the right the ball will be deflected too high and not out enough.  The right photo with the club arriving more vertical at the ball gets into high technique where the club actually lands behind the ball, projects it more upwards, and uses the landing angle to stop the ball instead of spin.

Also remember to change your wedges when needed, play a premium ball, and keep the grooves clean, and club face dry in order to create as much friction as possible.  I tell a lot of students that play Vokey wedges to replace their main wedge when each new model comes out which is roughly 2 years.  Their other wedges could be done every 2 cycles or 4 years or sooner if needed.

For the YouTube clip Click Here.