Bladed Bunker Shots
The Bladed Bunker Shot
Good news! You’ve mastered Tiger’s stinger, that frozen rope that never gets higher than three feet above the ground and travels at somewhere near the speed of sound. The bad news is you are hitting it from greenside bunkers. You are blading the ball above its equator and sending it on its heat seeking way. Your playing partners dive for safety and you are now faced with an eighty yard wedge shot back to the green. The residual mental effect is you soon become sand phobic. This fear of sand filters back into your approach shots. You start to ‘steer’ the ball from the fairway to avoid the bunkers. You become tense and unable to swing the club freely. What’s going on?
Blading or thinning the ball out of bunkers occurs when the sand wedge fails to hit the sand first. It is as simple as that. Bunker shots are the only shots where the golfer should hit the sand, not the ball. The club head needs to enter the sand two to three inches behind the ball traveling on a steep, downward angle of approach. The ball will then be propelled out of the bunker on a nice pillow of sand. The first order of business is to open your stance and club face, and set up with your weight on your left side (for the right hander). Maintain this left side lean and keep some flex in the knees throughout the swing. Go online and check out Seve Ballesteros hitting bunker shots to understand just how much you need to maintain these positions. Try hinging your wrists upward on the takeaway and maintaining that angle as you splash the club head into the sand. Make sure you follow through and keep the club face open.
MAKING IT STICK
Because this shot requires a new target for our downswing (a spot in the sand, not the ball) we need a drill that will help us hit the correct spot every time. Take the butt end of your club and draw a straight line about four feet in length perpendicular to the target line. Practice hitting that line. When you consistently hit the line, put a ball down and with your finger, make a short line two to three inches behind the ball. Practice hitting that line without worrying about the ball. Your shots will improve and your friends will feel a whole lot safer.
THE MISS – The Chunked Wedge
THE MISS – The Chunked Wedge
You have just attempted an eighty yard wedge shot. The three inch deep divot takes off like an F-16. Unfortunately, the ball floats like a sick duck and falls mockingly short of target. If only you could play the divot. Unfortunately, you can’t and the frustration bubbles up from your toes to just behind your eyes. You feel as if you have done everything right. You went through your checklist. You set up with a nice straight back. You maintained your spine angle, you kept your head still, you kept your grip pressure steady, and yet… SPLAT. So what’s going on?
Your body stopped turning just before impact. Why? Your weight stayed back on your trailing foot (your right foot for right-handed players), causing your upper body to dominate the swing into the ball. When that happens, your swing path goes from rotational to vertical, extension is lost, and your hands ‘flip,’ turning the toe of the club steeply downward upon contact with the ground, usually behind the ball. The outside of the divot is deep enough to lie down in, and points sharply left of target (again for righthanded players). With the wedge, set up with sixty to seventy percent of your weight on your lead foot (the left for right-handed players) and leave it there. Make your normal backswing, but as you begin to transition from backswing to forward swing feel the lower part of your body turning left. This sensation of your lower body turning and leading will give your swing the proper sequencing and keep you from coming over the top. You will maintain your extension through the ball and into your follow through. Your upper body will follow your lower and everything will be right with the universe.
MAKING IT STICK
Changing a motor skill is difficult. There is no magic pill. In order to ‘un-learn’ a destructive pattern and replace it with positive movement requires repetition. The best drill for completing a correctly sequenced rotation and weight shift is a simple one: Set up with an empty range ball bucket just outside the ankle of your lead foot. When you complete your swing to a balanced and fully rotated finish you should be able to tilt your head down and look directly into the bottom of the bucket. Hit ten balls with the bucket, then ten without. Repeat the process and call me in the morning.Read More