Gene “The Squire” Sarazan is the man we have to thank for designing the sand wedge back in the 1930s.
His tinkering with a club head by adding solder to the sole was then as it is now, one of the greatest inventions created to help golfers play better and have more fun.
Sand play can be both one of the most frustrating parts of the game or at times can be the most rewarding and fun. Having to blast a shot out of a bunker and having it cozy up close to the hole is one of the most satisfying feelings in the game.
Understanding how the club’s bounce, or sole configuration, functions is an important part of controlling this shot. This “bounce” or the flange of the sand wedge actually slides under the ball and then bounces like a ski in snow. The greenside bunker shot is the only golf shot where the clubface never touches the ball. The ball actually comes out with the blast of sand.
Understanding the fundamentals is the key to making this shot successful.
Grip: Start with a weaker grip (hand turned open to the target) in the target-side hand. This will prevent the wrist from rotating through impact. The back hand should be in a neutral position
Aim: The aim is very tricky because both your clubface and your body are aiming on a line that is open to the target line.
Set up: Your stance should be a little wider than usual so the club can slide under the ball. The ball is positioned in the middle of your stance; posture is always tall and balanced, with your weight slightly toward the target foot.
The swing should follow the line of your toes so you will feel like you are swinging to the side of the target; however the ball will come out of the sand in the direction of the target.
It is important to hit the sand behind the ball. I always look one to two inches behind the ball and focus on that spot. The club will enter the sand at that point, then slide under the ball and blast it out.
Sand conditions will determine how far behind the ball you hit and how much the club will slide under the ball.
The next item to make sure of is the follow through. You must accelerate through the ball and make sure you follow through with your body.
I always feel like I am turning my chest towards to the target after impact, this feeling usually gets me enough follow through to execute a good shot.
Once you become accustomed to the feel and sound of your sand wedge blasting a shot out of the bunker and on to the green, you will begin to better understand the bunker shot and you’ll have a blast!