Instruction Video

VIDEO: Control the distance of your greenside bunker shots

By Mark Jones
Do you escape greenside bunkers first time most of the time but have little control over where the ball ends up? Work on my three simple keys to distance control – where you contact the sand, the depth of sand taken and speed – and you’ll soon be known for your sand save capability.

We have new white sand in our greenside bunkers at The Track, Meydan Golf so it’s especially important to follow these tips if you are to improve your scores. —with Kent Gray

Attack Angle
Before we look at the slight variation on the same theme that will allow you to control the distance of short, medium-range and long bunker shots, it is important to know that your downswing angle into the sand needs to be shallower. A big mistake that many amateurs make is not opening up the clubface sufficiently. Opening the clubface allows you to use the bounce angle on the bottom of your wedge correctly. If your swing is too steep, you won’t get the benefit of the bounce, the club will dig deep into the sand and you will leave the ball in the bunker. For each of the shots here, have your feet set just wider than shoulder-width apart and ensure the ball is positioned ahead of centre, closer to the front foot. Now, apply more pressure into your lead leg to assist with striking the sand closer to the ball. Let’s give it a try with different length shots.

1. Short Distance (0-10 yards)

(Photo by Masam Ali)

Taking too much sand can be a disaster when playing a short bunker shot to a tight pin. For this shot, we need a high approach to the flag. Use your most lofted club, a lob or sand wedge, and start by opening the clubface so that it sits flat on the sand. Take your grip to lower down the handle and ensure you squat down into your posture and bend your knees more. This lowers the handle of the club and creates a flatter swing, allowing you to keep the loft on the club and create a shallow contact into the sand. Aim your feet left of the target and swing straight down the line of your feet. Hit the sand one inch (2.5cm) behind the ball, make a long swing and increase your swing speed into a full swing finish.

2. Medium Distance (10-20 yards)

(Photo by Masam Ali)

The key difference between the short and medium bunker shot comes in the set-up. Start by opening the clubface to around 20 degrees before taking your grip at the top of the club. Once again, ensure you squat down into your posture and bend your knees more, aim your feet left of the target, swing straight down the line of your feet, connecting with the sand one inch behind the ball. Remember to swing through to a full finish.

3. Long Distance (20 – 40 yards)

(Photo by Masam Ali)

It’s widely regarded as one of the toughest shots in golf but you needn’t fret over the long bunker shot. For starters, choose a less lofted club such as a pitching wedge. Less loft allows the ball to come out lower with more speed so it can roll out towards the target. Open the clubface around 20 degrees and then take your grip, aim your feet left of the target and swing straight down the line of your feet, as you have for the shorter sand shots. The other key here is to increase your swing speed as though you are hitting a 7 iron 150 yards. You must also hit the sand two to three inches (5 to 7.5cm) behind the ball. The ball will come out lower, travel further and run towards the target – hopefully setting up another memorable sand save.

(Photo by Masam Ali)

Which wedge?
Here I’ve got my PW and more lofted 56-degree wedge. Ensure you use the right loft for the required distance.

To book a lesson with Head PGA Golf Professional Mark Jones at the Meydan Academy By Troon call 04 381 3733 or email [email protected]


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Launched in 2008, Golf Digest Middle East is the #1 golf magazine in the region, featuring local content and exclusive articles from the world's leading professionals

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