For many golfers bunkers are their worst nightmare, when they go in one they panic, and are often happy just to be able to get out at the first attempt.
Yet if you gave a Tour Pro a choice of being in a bunker or playing over one from a very tight lie, they would choose to be in the sand all day long!
So what goes wrong? Actually only two things – not coming out at all, or sending the ball much too far over the green into more trouble, or worse still into another dreaded bunker.
Take a look at the picture below, you will see that I am set up ready for action. My stance is slightly open with the ball being played from a spot just left of centre, and my weight is favouring my left side on a 60-40 basis.
With the club face slightly open, my plan is to try and hit the sand roughly two inches before the ball. Make sure that you hover your club over the point you wish to hit, so many players have the club nestling right up close to the ball, they then tend to strike the ball too cleanly, and fire it straight into the face of the bunker.
Now have a look at the picture above, this time I am approaching the moment of truth on a nice shallow angle of attack to remove a small cut of sand below the ball.
Most poor bunker players are much too steep at this point, allowing the club to dig down under the ball, much too deeply into the sand.
When this happens the club is severely restricted, and usually runs out of steam, causing the ball to remain firmly in the sand. Probably the biggest fault in bunker play is a lack of followthrough with poor players quitting as soon as the club strikes the sand.
Try to think in terms of splashing some sand out from under the ball onto the green and remember the old saying, where the sand goes the ball goes. If you are half hearted, you will probably be in the bunker for a while. Good luck as always.
Next week: Using the bounce.