Most Tour players set up for a standard greenside bunker shot with the ball forward in their stance and the clubface open. Opening the face helps the club slide under the ball so it can blast sand—and the ball on top of it—up and out of the bunker. Playing the ball forward allows pros to start their divots three inches behind the ball while making the same swing they'd use from a grassy lie, where the goal is to hit the ball first and then the turf.
It's pretty nifty — one swing, two kinds of shots. And it's so reliable that elite players are just as comfortable blasting from sand as they are from rough after they miss a green. But if you're like most weekend players, you use the same ball position in a bunker as you do from grass. With the ball played back, you're forced to lean away from the target or swing down steeply so you catch the sand first—big-time bunker no-nos.
Play the ball forward and open the face — that's easy. And one more thing: The pros tend to swing with more speed in the bunker than they do on other greenside shots. They accelerate through the ball, so much so that their wedge exits the sand before the ball begins exploding upward. You don't need to swing out of your spikes—just feel like you're "pulling" the club aggressively through impact. This drill will give you the "pro" feel.
A DRILL FOR PURE SAND SHOTS
1. With the ball forward and the face open, make a three-quarter backswing with a full wrist hinge using only your left arm.
2. Swing down. Because of the forward ball position, the clubhead will hit the sand first. Through impact, feel as though you're pulling the clubhead past the ball with your left arm.
3. Continue pulling [and rotating] until your left wrist hinges the club past vertical in your follow-through.