How I han­dle any bunker shot

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By Rickie Fowler

How I han­dle ev­ery lie.

stay pos­i­tive Maybe you’re ag­i­tated be­cause you just made a bad swing or it feels like an un­lucky break, but the worst thing you can do is let neg­a­tive emo­tion carry into a dif­fi­cult bunker shot. Hate the sand or the mo­ment, and you’ll tend to rush and make mat­ters worse. In­stead, laugh a lit­tle in­side about your sit­u­a­tion. Then em­brace the chance to hit a mem­o­rable shot. Ob­vi­ous as this might sound, at­ti­tude sep­a­rates more play­ers than tal­ent in this game.

cre­ate a stance

Some­times the is­sue is, you’re not even sure how to stand. Your only op­tions are to put one or both feet out­side the bunker or maybe take a knee. What­ever the case, just try to get as cen­tred as pos­si­ble. Where does your torso need to be so that your hands can hang di­rectly over the ball? If the ball is far be­low my feet, like it is on this shot (left), I grip the club as long as it can be. If the ball were above my feet, I’d slide my hands down the grip. Also, grav­ity wants to pull me down the slope on this shot, so I sink a lot of weight into my knees and rear end to stay bal­anced as I find my foot­ing. Stand­ing ex­tra wide, you won’t be able to put much leg ac­tion into the shot, but re­sist the urge to swing harder with your arms. Swing­ing out of con­trol will make you fall vic­tim to grav­ity and hit the shot thin or way too fat.

splash it high

To clear a ridicu­lously tall lip, re­mem­ber two setup keys: (1) Open the club­face as far as it will go be­fore tak­ing your grip. I see a lot of am­a­teurs get con­fused here. I hold the club lightly in my right hand first, let the face fall open, then I put my left hand on the top of the grip;(2) Drop the hands back, away from the tar­get. This adds even more loft. Once you’re set up prop­erly, it’s re­ally all about speed. Take a full swing, slid­ing the club un­der the ball. On the fol­low-through, keep the club­face point­ing to the sky. Hope­fully you’ll see the ball up in the air, too.

dig deep

Okay, maybe you got re­ally screwed. On top of every­thing else, your ball is buried so only the top half is vis­i­ble. Time to swing hard. I mean re­ally hard. Play it in the mid­dle of your stance, come down steep and en­ter the sand about an inch be­hind the ball.You won’t make much of a fol­low-through, but if you keep the face open, the ball should pop out. Now go sink the putt.

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