THE WEEKLY HERALD   EVERETT, WASHINGTON
Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best way to get out of a bunker

Hey Ballinger buddies. I hope everyone is enjoying our summer now that we finally are having one. It has been a couple of years since we had a real summer.
A golfer asked me this week about getting out of a greenside bunker. He asked about a short bunker shot but was really interested in a longer bunker shot. The fundamentals for both shots are the same, so I will explain the basics of how to get out of a bunker and then talk about the adjustments that need to be made regarding the longer bunker shot.
The basic bunker shot is actually the easiest shot in golf as it is the only shot you want to hit fat or heavy. Have you ever hit a shot from the fairway and the divot goes farther than the ball? You just hit a bunker shot.
To accomplish the basic bunker shot, you need to make a couple of simple adjustments. The first is to open your sand wedge. To do this properly, open the wedge first and then grip the club. Do not grip the club; then open the wedge.
Opening the wedge will allow you to use the bounce of the club (which keeps the leading edge up) and prevent the club from digging into the sand. The second adjustment is to place the ball toward the front of your stance.
Now comes the number one reason why golfers have trouble getting out of the bunker. What golfers often don’t realize is that they have to make a full swing to get the ball to go a very short distance.
If a golfer is facing a 10-yard bunker shot, the golfer will make a very small swing because they think that a short shot requires a short swing. This is the fundamental flaw.
To get out of the bunker, a golfer must make a full swing. The fuller swing will create the momentum needed to get the ball out of the bunker. Think of it this way: You need to hit the sand hard enough that the sand gets the ball out of the bunker.
When making this big of a swing, you need to hit the sand a couple of inches behind the ball (aided by the ball position being more forward) and make a shallow divot (opening the club face and using the bounce will help with that).
Practice this and you will find yourself getting out of the bunker regularly. Obviously with practice you can start to become more proficient at controlling the distance the ball travels.
The first priority is always to get out of the bunker. As for the longer bunker shot, the fundamentals are the same as the shorter version. If the lip of the bunker is not very high try this.
Instead of using a sand or lob wedge, select a pitching wedge or even a 9-iron. Making all the previously discussed adjustments using these clubs will help get the ball out on a lower trajectory, and the ball will roll more once it lands on the green. I hope this helps take some of the fear out of hitting a bunker shot.
Tyrone Hardy is co-owner of Hardy Golf LLC and director of golf at Ballinger Lake Golf Course. For more information go to www.ballingerlakegolf.com. Send comments or questions to tyroneh@ballingerlakegolf.com or follow Ballinger Lake Golf on Facebook and Twitter.