What makes a great bunker player?
Golf Monthly|December 2020
GM Top 25 Coach Keith Williams explains what you can learn from the world’s best bunker players..
Keith Williams

For many golfers, watching their ball disappear into a greenside bunker sparks panic. Tour pros, however, have a totally different mindset – they understand what’s required to ‘pop’ the ball out and their technique has been perfected through hours of practice. Rather than seeing the ball come back to their feet, or slamming into the face of the bunker, they picture a far more positive outcome.

So, what is it they do so well? Over the next five pages, Top 25 Coach Keith Williams explains what you can learn from the best in the business. By breaking the shot down, we’ll help you to become a more proficient bunker player. Plus, we ask the pros for their top tips and advice…

1 A perfect set-up

In the backswing, there’s no transfer of weight towards the right side. You’ve still got to feel the pressure on the inside of the left foot

Lower hands help create a shallower swing that will send the ball up high so it lands softly.

Every great bunker player has a great set-up. Taking a wider stance than you would for most short-game shots helps to stabilise the lower body. Note how Justin Thomas has lowered the body a little from the hips and knees, which positions the spine more vertically and helps shallow out the swing. The hands tend to be lower, too, which helps to expose the bounce. The weight is set slightly left, with the sternum just inside the left foot. The ball position is approximately opposite the sternum, or just forward of it. At set-up, the shaft should be vertical or slightly negative, not pushed forward of the ball.

Aim

In theory, the more you aim left, the more you drag the club across the target line. This encourages the hands to lead, something you don’t want. In most cases, it’s advisable to aim slightly left of target, or even square, as a number of top players do. They are so good at turning on to the ball, which encourages the release of the clubhead forward.

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