Bunker shots, they say, are the easiest shots in golf, after all you don’t have to hit the ball, just the sand behind the ball. I know a lot of amateurs who would completely disagree with that statement, as they thrash around in the sand and take two or more just to get out.
Golf is a game where the mind has to be controlled and directed if you are to play your best and some shots in particular really put this skill to the test don’t they? For many amateurs the bunker shot really gets the heartbeat going with the odd prayer flashing through the mind.
It’s not hard to see the mental challenges going on in the mind of a golfer manifesting in their swings. Typical with many short game shots, the bunker shot is often played with a short tense swing that de-accelerates and “quits” on the shot. These poor swings will often leave the ball in the bunker and sometimes in a worse position than it started with. Little wonder many golfers view bunkers as a pit full of quicksand rather than a pretty straightforward shot.
Be aware of your feelings. If you are nervous, uptight, tense or just not very confident then you will want to get yourself calm and relaxed. Focus on your breathing, keep it deep and slow. Take a few deep calming breaths and release them slowly. Keep your head and shoulders up, walk in with a confident body posture.
IGNORE THE BALL COMPLETELY FROM START TO FINISH. The ball is not needed in order to play a great bunker shot, and when you do ignore it and play the sand, the ball will be lifted out by the sand as a result of you playing the sand correctly. The mistake many golfers make is they set up and focus on the ball. No wonder it gets thinned and stays in the bunker.
Your only thought is to hit the sand behind the ball. If you are a high handicap player then give yourself some margin for error and concentrate on an impact spot 2 – 3 inches behind the ball. We are not necessarily looking for lots of finesse here, just get it out and on the green. Better players are not only looking to get it close, but actually hole it, but if you struggle in bunkers then just getting out in one shot and on the green is what you are after I’m sure?
You should play the ball forward in your stance, 2 or 3 inches inside your left heel (for right handers) which also helps to bottom the club into the sand before the ball. Keep an open stance and bias your weight onto your front leg. (left leg for RH) REMEMBER ignore the ball and focus on setting the club up to a spot in the sand at least 2 inches behind the ball. Do not let your eyes focus on the ball, you must be determined to hit the sand and stay committed to it.
Keep a nice controlled backswing and then fully commit to hitting your patch of sand on the way down. Keep the club going, drive it into the sand and keep it moving. You really want to have a full finish, keep your body turning and get that club over our back. Imagine you are going to throw some sand over your shoulder. The key is to commit to a full swing into the sand – through it – and into your finish.
You don’t want a little arms and hands flick at this, that’s the kiss of death! Put a proper “body turn” swing into the sand behind the ball! You can even imagine that you are going to get a cup full of sand thrown onto that green and that sand is coming out from behind and under the ball.
As with all things golf practice is the key to proficiency. The majority of bunker shots are around 10 yards so you want to get that distance dialed in first. Take some notes down and then get into the practice bunker and do some work, it will pay off handsomely in your next match.
Good technique + Good Mental Game = Your Best Golf Consistently.
The key to playing your best and getting the most enjoyment out of your game is combining good technique with the ability to control your mind and get it working for you in a positive manner both emotionally and physically.
For more articles and help with the mental or physical game of golf, please stop by and visit our site at http://www.golfmindshop.com
Mental Practice will drastically cut down the amount of time that you need to spend actually practicing when it is done correctly and although top athletes in all sports practice this as a daily routine, it can and WILL work for anyone.