There are a number of reasons players may find themselves unsuccessful at hitting from bunkers. Here are five common bunker mistakes and how they can be corrected.
Quitting on the shot
Many amateur golfers fear bunker shots and this fear drives them to quit through impact. This means the golfer seizes up and slows down at the crucial moment they should be accelerating to lift the ball up and out of the bunker. This usually results in a heavy strike with the ball being left in the sand. To help avoid quitting on the shot, golfers should try holding the club high on the handle. This extra length on the club will add extra club head speed through the ball increasing acceleration at impact.
Too much sand
Players only need to slide the club underneath the ball so it flies up and out of the bunker on a fine carpet of sand, not a woolly mammoth rug! Taking too much sand behind or underneath the ball will rapidly decrease club head speed. If the golfer hits the sand too far behind the ball they will have to heave a massive amount of sand.
Too little sand
Take too little sand and other problems can appear. Because of the length and speed generated during a standard splash bunker shot, direct contact with the ball will produce a lot of distance. If no sand is taken at all, the golfer could also thin the shot resulting in even less control of the golf ball. To ensure enough sand is taken during the bunker shot, the golfer must ensure they enter the sand at least an inch before the ball.
Golfers are often so desperate to lift the ball out of a bunker they resort to flicking their hands at the ball. This flicking is caused by a breakdown of the left wrist at impact (for right handed golfers). This breakdown rapidly increases the upward arc of the swing through impact. The flick usually results in the club either not entering the sand at all or rising so quickly out that a skulled or thin shot is almost inevitable. Golfers should try to ensure that the left wrist stays firm, down and through impact. The large amount of loft on a sand wedge will impart enough lift on the ball without extra help from the golfer.
Scooping the ball is quite similar to flicking but with the added bonus of leaning back through impact. This scoop sees the golfer transfer most of their weight on to the back foot during the shot in an attempt to get underneath the ball. This transfer of weight backward usually results in fat or heavy strikes as the swing arc bottoms out too early and enters the sand a long way behind the ball. Scooping is a nasty habit to ingrain and should be avoided by ensuring body weight is slightly forward at impact and the left wrist (for right handed golfers) is firm through impact and does not break down.