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Your golf club should never make direct contact with your golf ball.
Your golf club should never make direct contact with your golf ball. (Courtesy Robert A. Durkin)

For successful bunker play, you want ball position left and finish left

Kellie Stenzel, PGABy Kellie Stenzel, PGA,
Special Contributor

The greenside bunker can often be one of the most feared shots in golf. And I understand because in most cases you need to take quite a large swing for a relatively small distance. And we all know, the larger the swing, the greater the chance for error.

With a proper set-up and a commitment to a proper, full finish, however, you can impress yourself and maybe even your friends.

In a greenside bunker, you want to have your sand wedge contact the sand before your golf ball and continue to slide through the sand for quite a long distance.

I like to see a divot path in the sand of 10-12 inches. Your club should never make direct contact with your golf ball. The momentum of throwing the sand out of the bunker will propel your golf ball as well.

In order to ensure contacting the sand before your golf ball, your ball position must be left or forward in your stance.

And try to see if you can get this to make sense so you can remember. If I want to contact the sand first, I would place the golf ball later in my swing, or farther left. I like the see a golf ball position just inside the left heel for most greenside bunker shots.

As I make my relatively full golf swing in a greenside bunker, it is imperative that you swing all the way through to a full finish on your left, so that your weight finishes on your left foot as you allow your right foot to rotate up to the toes as your right heel comes off the ground.

This commitment to a full finish on your left side will allow you to keep the sand wedge gliding through the sand and produce the longer sand divot necessary to propel your sand out of the bunker and your golf ball onto the green.

Start with these two fundamentals:

1. Ball position left
2. Full finish on your left side

These will allow you to learn to properly contact the sand and make your bunker game more successful and maybe even fun.

- Kellie Stenzel, PGA, has been named by Golf Magazine as one of the Top 100 Teachers in America, and has been a Golf For Women Top 50 teacher since 1999. She has published three books: "The Women's Guide to Golf: A Handbook for Beginners," "The Women's Guide to Consistent Golf," and "The Women's Guide to Lower Scores." She is also rated by Golf Digest as one of the top teachers in New York.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Sand Play

    Martin Bevans wrote on: Dec 22, 2007

    Some instructors advocate keeping your weight on the left foot from the beginning to the end of the swing in the sand. From your instruction you indicate that the weight is transferred. Can you indicate which is correct....THank you


      • RE: Sand Play

        bill harley fully certified instructor wrote on: Dec 9, 2011

        Weight should be on your left side and you should also completley follow through on your left side. Make sure you dig your feet in the sand for stability...