Long Explosion Bunker Shots
One of the toughest shots to hit for any golfer is the long explosion shot out of a bunker.
Because you have to carry the ball farther than a typical shot from a green side bunker, it is very difficult to judge the distance the ball will travel and what club to hit. The secret to hitting it successfully is swinging all the way through the ball with a full finish.
When attempting a long explosion shot from a bunker, your stance should be slightly closed and wider than usual. Dig your feet a few inches down into the sand and point your toes in for balance. Be sure to make a full shoulder turn to accommodate the long swing which is necessary to get maximum distance.
Open the club face slightly to hit the shot but not as much as you would for a typical bunker shot. The ball should be positioned in the middle of your stance and you will be trying to hit the sand just about an inch behind the ball.
Instead of digging down into the sand like you would on short bunker shots, you will want to try and just skim the sand for the long explosion. Your set up will help put you in the best position to execute this shot successfully. By closing your stance a little bit as described above you will be able to make the wide turn needed to carry the ball a great distance. You can also get maximum distance by rolling over the wrists more than you would on a typical shot. For left-handers, this means a stronger left hand through the downswing.
When it comes to club selection for this shot, the sand wedge is still the best choice in most cases. Be sure to square up the club for this shot unlike the shorter bunker shots where you are encouraged to open it up. The sand wedge is fine for 15 to 20 yard shots but if you have to cover more yards, consider clubbing down to a pitching wedge or 9 iron, the ball will fly lower and carry farther onto the green.
Green side bunkers
Getting up and down out of a green side bunker to save par is more satisfying to most golfers than making a birdie. Knowing how to get out of trouble is going to save you strokes and lower your score.
There is a great deal of fear for most amateurs in trying to hit a ball out of the sand but there should not be. You have a sand wedge in your bag just for this purpose and it was designed to get the ball out of the trap and up onto the green, trust it. For most shots out of the sand, take a normal stance and position the ball in the middle of your feet. The key is to get the club under the ball to force the sand and the ball up into the air. Most instructors will tell you to aim an inch or two behind the ball to make sure that you hit the sand first.
For most golf shots you do not want to grip the club too tight but when hitting out of green side bunkers you must employ a firm grip. You want to make sure the club is square as it moves through the sand so you will have to keep the grip pressure strong to make the face of the club does not turn. The sand is also going to kill the momentum of your swing so don’t try for a long follow through because you will be swinging too hard.
If the bunker shot you face has to come up over a high lip or you have very little green to work with, then you need a sand shot that is going to land extremely soft. To hit this type of shot you need to open up your stance and open the face of the club. Instead of making a normal golf swing, you want to try and cut across the ball from left to right if you are left handed.
Watch Phil Mickelson hit a short bunker shot and see how he can pop the ball several feet into the air. This shot takes a great deal of practice to properly execute but once you learn how to hit it you can use it in other spots around the green where a pitch and roll won’t work.