You just can’t win in the sand—you either bury the clubhead and leave the shot in the bunker, or you catch the ball thin and blade it over the green. In other words, your bunker swing is always one extreme or the other: It may be too steep or too shallow, but it’s never just right.
The following simple practice-bunker drill, however, can give you the perfect blend of steepness and shallowness that will turn you into a lights-out sand player from just about any greenside bunker.
DRILL: TOUCH THE WALL
Create an imaginary wall by placing two alignment rods in the sand roughly two feet apart. The rods should be parallel with your target line and even with a line running across your heels as you stand at address, with the closest rod about a foot away from your left foot.
Now take several practice swings without a ball. The goal is to get your right palm and the clubshaft to touch the “wall” at about hip height in your finish. Once you can do this consistently, remove the rods and add a ball, then make an actual swing that again finishes with your right palm and the shaft both touching the imaginary wall.
You should now notice a big difference in the crispness and ease with which the clubhead travels through the sand, not to mention an improvement in how softly the ball flies out. That’s because you now have the perfect mix of steepness (so the club can work under the ball) and shallowness (so the club has enough momentum to slide through the sand) that all good bunker players have. Work on this drill for 10-15 minutes each practice session and you’ll soon have a reliable, dominant bunker game.