BETTER SAND PLAY IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK
by David Pelz
Many golfers will tell you the shot they dread most is the greenside sand shot. This has always surprised me a little because this is the one shot in golf where you don't actually have to hit the ball. That fact alone should alleviate some anxiety, but a lot of golfers don't understand how the club and sand should interact on these “blast” shots.
If they understood that this shot requires a “Scoot-and-Spin” technique rather than a “Dig-and-Push,” they would see it's really pretty easy to get out of bunkers if you follow a few simple rules.
The actual swing you make in the sand is a lot like a finesse wedge swing in which the length of your backswing controls how far the ball travels and you complete the swing with a full finish. However, there are a few set up differences that are critical to your success in the sand. Put these keys into practice and you'll be on your way to becoming a better bunker player:
Use a wedge with plenty of bounce for shots where your ball is sitting in a good bit of sand. My 56-degree Cleveland RTX-3 Sand Wedge has 14 degrees of bounce so I know it’s going to glide through the sand and pop the ball out without me having to exert extra effort.
Aim your body and swing line about 17 degrees left of your target.
Set your clubface extremely open (Your clubface should aim about 45 degrees right of your swing line direction) so it scoots through the sand without “digging” into it. Your clubface should penetrate only about half an inch below the surface.
Position the ball forward in your stance so that it's even with the inside of your front heel.
From this position and set up you should be able to make your normal finesse wedge swing to a high, full finish that leaves you with 99 percent of your weight on your front foot. That’s a backswing to the “9 O’Clock” position and fluid follow-through to a full, “hands-high” finish position.
We call this the “Scoot-and-Spin” blast shot because your club head scoots under and past the ball, blasting it out high and soft, and with a fair amount of spin. The force that moves the ball is actually applied by the sand, not the club. In fact, the club never touches the ball in a properly executed sand blast.
If you’d like more expert short game instruction, visit www.pelzgolf.com to see what courses are hosting PELZ Schools and Clinics near you.