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7 Finer Points of Sand Play

Published: 2021-06-16
7 Finer Points of Sand Play
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We marvel at how easy the pros make it look and statistics that reflect ‘sand save’ success.  Pros seem to have even more control from greenside bunkers than the rough.

The most common mistake I routinely encounter with players is deceleration through the shot.  This indicates a lack of trust with their bunker technique.

If you want to be successful in sand, you need to learn the following essentials.



Here’s a GREAT CHECKLIST of the keys to your success. You can even bring this to your practice sessions or save it on your phone.

1. SET UP with the ball positioned forward in order to make initial contact with the sand, not the ball.   

Pay attention to ball position on the next PGA Tour telecast, and note how forward players like Phil Mickelson’s ball position is in relation to his feet.

2. SET UP with the clubface slightly open and the shaft ‘neutral’. 

You will be more successful if you keep the clubface open, so you catch the bounce on contact, not the leading edge.  (Exception is playing out of wet or firm sand. In this case you may benefit using the leading edge, and entering the sand closer to the ball).

For ‘bounce insurance’ NO forward shaft lean. Set your hands more in line with the clubface. 

3. SET UP with more knee bend than usual and it’s important to maintain this feeling through the swing so your swing arc is under the ball.  From greenside bunkers, it's important that you catch sand first, not ball!

4. SWING MOTION—KEEP TURNING THROUGH THE SHOT. Your SWING does not end at impact. Because you’re moving sand, it is vital to make a more aggressive swing. 

While swinging through, keep the clubface open. Turning your body helps keep the clubface from turning over too quickly, and producing the necessary clubhead speed.  More clubhead speed gives you a larger margin of error so you can hit further behind the ball.

5. FAVORITE DRILL  Cover the clubface with sand.  Swing from 9 to 3 o’clock in slow motion, keeping the sand on the club face. This will give you the right sensation thru the hitting area so the clubface stays open.


6. NO FEAR. When stepping into a bunker, you may bring with you a history of poor performance. Your transformation and confidence, developed through practice, will override any negative thoughts. You’ll feel empowered, not defeated when stepping into a bunker. As Franklin Roosevelt wisely told us, “The only thing to fear is fear itself”.

7. MAKE 'WEDGE TIME'. Most amateurs dedicate insufficient time to their wedges or bunker play. Meanwhile, pros dedicate way more time to the wedges, than say driver. How about spending 10 minutes before each round dedicated to your sand wedge.

If you follow these essential points, you may even be aiming for the bunkers during your next round.

Good luck and feel free to reach out to me with any questions on bunker play...better yet, come visit us at the Resort at Longboat Key Club for an unforgettable golf getaway.