Sand shots can be one of the most dreaded shots in golf. Obviously if you want to stay out of the sand if you can but if you play golf long enough, you will realize that it is inevitable that you will end up there. Sand shots are the worst part of my game so I spend a long time researching how to play bunker shots and constantly practice. I recently came across this Phil Mickelson video lesson and it really cleared my head when it came to sand play.

Mickelson explains the simple golf swing mechanics required to play a good sand shot. He explains that you need to really focus on tempo. You don’t need to worry about how behind the ball you hit or what angle you hit into the sand. None of that really matters according to Mickelson. If you focus on these bunker shot instructionsthe rest will come to you. The important thing in a bunker shot is to get within the 3 foot circle. That is where you can comfortable make your putt from. Follow these tips given by Mickelson and it will really help your golf swing.

1. Break you wrists early like in the hinge and hold method. This is where you cock your wrists early in the back swing.

2. Continue your hands into the finish and make sure they end very high. Keeping the hands and club through the motion will reduce the club from bouncing the leading edge into the ball. This is the most critical element to good bunker play.

3. Play the ball from off the front foot.

4. Open the face of the club. You want to create loft so you need to open the face of the club.

5. Adjust your body position. Your weight should be fairly level, maybe slightly forward.



For an Uphill lie in the sand….

You need to move your weight back in your stance and have a more shallow arc. This is similar to the flop shot. Everything else is the same, such as ball position, wrist cock etc.

For a Downhill lie in the sand….

You need to have your weight forward and drive the club underneath the ball. You also need to put the ball in a more forward position in your stance. This will help you get underneath the ball

For an Uphill buried lie in the sand….

This lie does not allow you to finish your club high so you need to ‘stick’ the club into the ground. It is important that the hands continue to lead the club. You cannot under any circumstance allow the club to pass your hands. Essentially, the arms and club stay in a straight line. You still open the face of the club and your weight is forward and you need to drive the club in behid the ball.

For a Downhill buried lie in the sand….

Wow. This is a tough lie. The ball is not going to get the loft you really want so it will run on a bit more than the others. If the pin is close, there is not much you can do about that. You just need to get the ball out. For this lie, you need to move your weight forward, but you are not going to finish high like you did before. You are going to stick the club in the ground and the hands must again stay in front of the club. The ball must be forward in your stance and drive the ball into the ground. The ball will come out with no spin so you may even have a short back swing.

These are some great instructions from ‘lefty’, Phil Mickelson and they should really help you with your sand game. As he says in the video, he moved from 83rd to 3rd for bunker shots by practicing from 10 yards out. Follow these instructions and your game will improve.

Filed under: Golf Short Game

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