Scor­ing Zone

These four drills will help de­velop your un­der­stand­ing of green­side bunker shots and how to play them

Golf Monthly - - Contents -

Bunker drills

1 The lad­der drill

This con­cept is one that’s fre­quently ap­plied in chip­ping, and it helps you fo­cus on your land­ing area and how the ball runs out. This isn’t about aim­ing for the pin, rather fo­cus­ing on dif­fer­ent land­ing ar­eas. It’ll help you de­velop your dis­tance con­trol as well as your feel and touch from the sand. Start as short as pos­si­ble, then aim to land each ball past the pre­vi­ous one. Use a club or golf tee to mark your land­ing zones, then see how many you can string to­gether.

2 The gate drill

When I’m as­sess­ing some­one’s bunker shots, I’m look­ing at spin, dis­tance con­trol, strike and line – this is the line test. This drill, us­ing two align­ment sticks to form a ‘gate’, is go­ing to help you judge whether you’re hit­ting it straight. From a coach­ing per­spec­tive, I watch out for swing di­rec­tion and swing path. Aim to hit as many balls as pos­si­ble through the gate.

3 Right hand only

The bunker shot is con­trolled by the right hand, and this is an ex­cel­lent drill to help you un­der­stand ex­actly what that means.

Grip the club with your right hand, keep­ing your left hand on your stom­ach all the way through the swing. Your right hand should be set in the back­swing and re­leas­ing in the through-swing, which means keep­ing loft on the club as you hit through the golf ball in the sand.

This drill will en­cour­age the right re­lease and get the bounce do­ing the job it was de­signed to do when it makes con­tact with the sand. You don’t have to hit the ball, but once you move on to do­ing so, you’ll be sur­prised by how well you can play the shot with­out your left hand. This drill can be quite eye-open­ing.

4 Half-coloured ball

Many of the old-fash­ioned ways of teach­ing how to play a green­side bunker shot cen­tred around open­ing the club­face and then swing­ing out to in, across the ball. As well as im­part­ing left-to-right sidespin, this method brings a num­ber of de­struc­tive shots into play, in­clud­ing fat and thin strikes. I pre­fer the more mod­ern way of teach­ing, where we’re look­ing to hit the ball with zero side spin.

I use a Sharpie to colour half the ball in, leav­ing the other half white. Vis­ually, you’ll be able to gain a bet­ter idea of the spin you’re putting on the ball and then make ad­just­ments to cre­ate neu­tral spin.

Shot on lo­ca­tion at Lu­mine Beach & Golf Com­mu­nity, Spain

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Alis­tair Davies

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