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I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream … for Some Bunker Relief

Peter Harris

Peter Harris

Hitting a sand shot is like scooping ice cream out of a five-gallon tub of your favorite flavor.

Imagine you are allowed to take only one scoop of ice cream and it can be as big as you want, and you get no second chances. It’s also hot outside and you exercised, so you really want a lot of ice cream.

Hold the scoop in your right hand and turn your upper body while raising your right arm, simulating the backswing in golf. Knowing you only get one chance to scoop the most ice cream possible, your arm descends on the tub of deliciousness, then your body rotates, creating more speed.

Once the scoop enters the ice cream and begins to dig, your right hand and forearm rotate so the back of your hand and forearm begin facing the ice cream, which shallows out the scoop as you move across and exit the tub.

You now hold a monster scoop of ice cream, and the goal is to not drop it on the ground as you face the target. That’s basically what your right arm and hand would do for a sand shot.

The rules of a sand shot are simple. Open the club face and use the bounce designed into the sole of the club throughout the shot. The club hits only sand and never touches the ball at any time. Accelerate the hands, club and body rotation through impact and continue the momentum to the finish.

In order to use the bounce properly on a sand shot, the heel of the wedge leads the toe through impact and as the club exits the sand. Another way to look at it is your hands never release the toe past the heel the way they do on a regular golf shot hit off grass. The back of the right hand and forearm face the sand at impact, similar to scooping ice cream.

You can hit the sand one, two or three inches behind the ball, but it doesn’t really matter as long as you hit enough sand, the club never touches the ball and you continue the momentum through the shot. There are several hundred square feet of sand in a bunker, so there is no excuse not to hit sand first.

A key variable to this sand shot sundae is creating enough acceleration with the hands, arms and body rotation through impact. Swing hard and fast through impact and keep the momentum moving until we finish rotated, facing the target with our hands held high.

Those are the basic flavors in a sand shot and why PGA Tour players aim for the sand sometimes, because the shot is so easy for them that they salivate. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a little ice cream?

Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column will appear regularly on the VALLEY NEWS recreation page during the playing season.