Last week we
examined the fundamentals that lie behind successful pitching and chipping, a
part of golf that can so often offset errors in other phases of the game. Now
we will see how to apply these same fundamentals to sand shots, another phase
of the sport that the weekend golfer all too often neglects, to his everlasting
regret. These shots are not difficult. Indeed, touring professionals sometimes
deliberately shoot into bunkers because they feel they can get closer to the
pin hitting from sand than from some lies in heavy grass near a green. The
average golfer shouldn't let traps worry him either. A few basic fundamentals
and some practice will make sand play more fun than fear.
briefly, the four main short-game elements to keep in mind are these:
1) The grip
should be taken more with the fingers than the palms, with extra pressure
applied by the last three fingers of the left hand and the two middle fingers
of the right.
2) At address and
throughout the swing, the player's weight should be on the outside and rear of
the left foot and on the inside and front of the right foot.
3) The swing
starts with a very early wrist break, thus setting up an unhurried backswing
and downswing and a late uncocking of the wrists in the hitting area.
4) The swing is
dominated by the left hand. It swings the club back and pulls it down into the
ball. The swing is completed with very little rolling of the right hand over
the left until well into the follow-through.
By using these
principles, with the adjustments described here and on the following pages,
every golfer can, with practice, develop a very sound and consistent sand
points for the sand explosion are similar to those of the pitch shot. The last
three fingers of the left hand grasp the club with a firmness that is felt all
the way up the arm to the shoulders, and the player's weight is well over on
his left foot, carried on the outside, back toward the heel.
Grip hard and swing strongly
There are four
important points to remember concerning the simple bunker shot. The grip should
be very firm; usually the swing must be very strong; the backswing and
downswing should follow an outside-to-inside arc, as if intentionally slicing;
and the clubhead must never be left in the sand after impact but must be swung
out in a full follow-through. The clubhead hits the sand behind the ball and
"explodes" it out. Normally, the club should strike two or three inches
behind the ball. If the sand is heavy or wet, one or two inches behind is
sufficient, because the ball comes out of wet sand very fast; if the sand is
fluffy and dry, the club should hit a full three inches behind the ball.