Find yourself struggling to get up and down from the greenside bunker on a consistent basis? If so, we highly recommend you check out these awesome four tips from Class AA PGA Professional James Whittemore of Wellingborough Golf Club, Northamptonshire.
In the first of new GolfMagic instruction video series, James talks us through his top tips to help you pop the ball out of the sand and next to the pin, while also quashing some of the misconceptions out there when it comes to greenside bunker shots...
JAMES' TOP TIPS FOR GREENSIDE BUNKER SHOTS
1) The biggest misconception I see when it comes to greenside bunker shots, when people see players hitting it high and landing it soft, is that they have to "smash" into the back of the ball, while also aiming way left of the target. This is a complete myth to me, we don't need to do that at all. One thing we need to remember is that we have a lot of loft on our club. I have a 56-degree wedge here, I don't need to be hitting it hard. I already have the loft in my hands. Setup is key. We want to be nice and square to the target line. I'm not wide open, I haven't laid the face open, it's just nice and square. We want to shuffle our feet into the sand for some stability and then pop our weight on the left side. The idea for this short greenside bunker shot - which in this instance is roughly 10 yards - is that we want to slide our right hand underneath. Imagine that as you go through, your right hand is sliding underneath. Try to feel like you are using the back of the club. Let the right hand slide pass underneath. We don't need lots of force for this shot. A great drill to help perfect this type of shot is to use a strike board and put it a few inches below the sand. Place your ball on top of it. This is a great feedback drill for greenside bunker shots. If I get too steep on the ball, I'll hit the sand and take out the strike board. You will then see the strike board. We don't want to see that. We just want to pop the ball out without digging in... we don't want to see the strike board. We don't need to smash the sand.
2) Okay, for this drill we want to get some sand on the face of the wedge. As we go through, we want to chuck some sand over our lead shoulder. This is keeping the club face open and up. As you keep the face open, sand is staying on the face, and it encourages you to slide underneath and not to dig in the sand. It's another great feedback drill.
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3) Another brilliant drill for the sand is to draw a line in the sand. Then I want you to make some small marks across this line. I want you to try and strike the sand as close to the line as possible. We're not looking to strike the ball first but we are looking to strike the lines I've just made. It gives you a concept and a feeling of what you are trying to achieve. It's all reps and again it gives you a great visual and feedback. It helps you to slide through the sand and stops you from digging, which is the enemy for these types of shots.
4) My fourth drill is to prevent tension in the sand. This one gives you a sense of feeling to take away the hit. You want to just swing the club. So get yourself set and let your arms just hang. Take your trail arm, bring it up and collapse it into your lead arm. Then put the club in your hand and give yourself the same feeling. You want that 1-2 movement in your head for these shots. Get the feel of hitting it soft and taking away the hit.
Stay tuned for more great tips from James Whittemore in his new instruction series for GolfMagic throughout September.