Assessing The Lie in The Bunker

When you’re playing bunker shots, one of the most important things you have to do, is assess the lie of the ball.

OK, so I have got two shots here.  The first golf ball I would say is lying nice. Second golf ball, is just down a little bit, only  a little bit down, but it is enough to make me think about changing the way I play the shot.

When the ball is almost sat up nicely, you can afford to have nice wide stance.  That wide stance makes the swing plane a little bit flatter.

When the ball is in a bad lie and is sat down, I’m going actually bring the right foot in and narrow the stance, and it’s much narrower.

That will actually just steepen the plane slightly. So as the club comes in it will becoming in a little more steeper and will take more sand.

So the lie dictates the width of stance and it also dictates how hard you can hit it.

If the lie is bad you need more energy and more force to get the club into the sand and the ball out onto the green. 

If the lie good you can take less sand which means you can actually make a softer swing and probably find a little bit more spin on the ball and more control when you’re not taking as much sand.

Too many players hit the ball too hard in the bunker, you don’t need a huge amount of energy when you play bunker shots.

With the technique here with that stance we can actually use the sole of the club to actually bounce under the ball, work the club gently underneath.

No going at the ball too aggressive, be nice and gentle, remember this is an arm swing, keep the lower body very stable, bit of arms, a bit of upper body rotation.

Notice how the back foot doesn’t really come off the ground. It doesn’t need to do that because I want to keep my lower body stable as possible, that’s the key to making good contact each time.

Now regarding the contact, the club really needs to just enter the sand before it gets to the golf ball.

So a ball’s width before the ball is absolutely plenty.

You don’t want to be coming in, back here too much otherwise the club will obviously take too much sand, too early and you’re either going to duff it or thin it.  And it’s not going to be a great shot.

Hence keeping the body weight slightly on the left side, promotes the club coming in a little bit closer to the ball.

The weight is back. Obviously, you’re going to hit back there and miss-hit the shot.

So good knee position, good foot position turned out, the club face is square on to where I am going.

Now the lip of the bunker could be a factor as well.

But in this position here. My Hands are actually almost behind the ball.

I’m not de-lofting the club so I’m applying kind of maximum loft of the club.  End of the club is pointing up to my belly button.

So I’ve got a good amount of loft on the club to work it underneath.  If the hands  are too far forward you’re not going to get enough loft on it.

You’re  not going to work the sole of the club.  That bounce on the club is there for a reason to get the club in and bring it out nice and gentle.

You don’t need to be aggressive with bunker shots, you can be quite soft with them.

It’s only when you just increase the speed of that slightly that the ball will start to go a little bit further.

So if you can stay nice and soft, stable lower body, but nice and still, that should  get you out of the bunker every time,

It’s only when the lie becomes bad you start to change the width of stance.

So obviously if it was really plugged lie. Right the way in there, you could get away with quite a narrow stance, hitting down on it.

A little bit better lie, you can widen the stance. Very, very slightly.

Still a little bit steeper.

But the key is then to figure out, well, how hard do you actually need to hit the shots to generate X amount of distance.

So have a little go of this, make sure you set yourself up correctly compared to the lie of the ball.

You must look at the lie of the ball.

Even a 5mm difference can dictate whether it’s a wide stance or whether you bring that foot in a little bit more.

To start with keep trying that, and then we’ll move on and see how you control the distance and the choices you can make to do that.