Tee Time: How to hit out of the sand like a golf pro (video)
We’ve all spent time on the one and only beach you never want to visit. No matter how long you’ve been golfing, it’s almost inevitable that at least once in a round of 18 you’ll end up in a sand trap. Whether it’s a fairway bunker some 200 yards from the green or a walled-in, St. Andrews-style trap within spitting distance of the pin, hitting confidently out of the sand can make or break your game.
“Goal No. 1 is to get it out of the sand, period,” said Denny Weber, golf pro at Keystone Golf Club. “You don’t give yourself a very good chance to play well and score well if you’re still in the sand on the next shot.”
Easier said than done. Most golfers commit two major sins when hitting out of the sand, Weber said. First is trying to “scoop” the ball out of the sand by adjusting your swing, stance and body position, rather than letting your club do the work. Second is hitting the ball before hitting the sand, which will either launch directly into the bunker wall or launch it far past your target.
“Commit to hitting the sand and you’re good to go,” Weber said. “It depends on shot length, but you always want to have a square stance and a square club.”
Like sunning on a breezy beach in Playa del Carmen, it’s hard (or nearly impossible) to leave the sand once you’re there, especially if you aren’t confident in your swing and stance. Begin with the same stance you use for chipping, with the ball placed slightly forward of center to help you hit sand before ball. Always use a full swing, or adjust slightly for distance.
“You are hitting the sand first in the bunker,” Weber said, noting that this is slightly different than a typical tee or fairway shot. “Typically, when you’re on the grass, you want to hit the ball first and the ground second. “
Weber suggests thinking of a bunker shot as trying to hit a dollar bill: Imagine the ball sits directly on the head of the president and the goal is to hit enough sand to cover the length of the bill, from back to front. Give it a try sometime with a dollar bill in the practice trap.
With repetition, this approach can consistently lift the ball up and out of a bunker. Advanced golfers can also play around with ball placement and opening up their stance or club face.
When you’re buried…
If the ball is really, seriously buried, advanced players can rotate the club face so that the toe of the club is pointing into the sand and the club face is pointing up at their body. Swing as usual to dig the bull up and out of the deep stuff.
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