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Amen corner: A sand-saving solution that’ll produce a smile

  • The face staring at you from the sand trap won't be there for long with a properly executed sand wedge, as Nayan Batra, 8, of Etna, is about to demonstrate. (Courtesy photograph)

  • The face staring at you from the sand trap won't be there for long with a properly executed shot, as Nayan Batra, 8, of Etna, is about to show. (Courtesy photograph)

Special to the Valley News
Published: 8/7/2019 9:51:40 PM
Modified: 8/7/2019 9:51:31 PM

One thing I enjoy about golf instruction are the opportunities to learn tricks of the trade from the best of the best.

One of my coaching partners with the The First Tee of New Hampshire at Fore-U is Bob Wortmann, who also volunteers his time with a First Tee chapter in South Carolina. We were helping junior golfers learn how to play a shot out of a bunker recently, and Bob provided the perfect drill to help improve sand play.

Hitting the ball into the sand is stressful, and being unsure of what to do brings even more anxiety. To help this, Bob drew a face in the sand — you know, two eyes, a nose and a smile — and instructed us to swing the clubhead through the sand to “erase the face.”

After a few practice swings, we put a ball down for the nose and, voila, not much more instruction needed for getting out of the bunker.

What erase the face did for us is give us the cue to swing with enough speed to wipe out all the sand upon which we drew that face. You hear about hitting 2, 3 or 4 inches behind the ball, but equally important is continuing the club face through the sand and past the ball to complete the shot.

If you don’t erase the whole face, you likely won’t hit a good bunker shot.

A few other tips for a sand shot is set up with a slightly open clubface and grip end of the club at or behind the ball, which will allow you to swing with more speed and prevents the leading edge of club digging into the sand.

Finally, when erasing the face, don’t roll your hands and wrists over. Keep the heel of the club in front of the toe while it passes through the sand.

Hey, anytime you can get yourself out of a bunker, it will sure bring a smile to your face. Have fun!

Peter Harris is the director of Golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column appears weekly in the Recreation page during the golf season.

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