When it’s useful: The ball sits in a steep-sided bunker. It’s so steep, in fact, that you’d have to squat like a sumo wrestler in order to get the clubhead near the ball, or bend so far forward that you’d be in danger of toppling into the hazard.
How to hit it: Drop to a knee. Even from this awkward stance, you’re in better position to maintain posture and balance than if you create extreme angles in your knees and spine tilt.
1. Avoid the Tilt
There’s a problem with bending your knees to the max to reach the ball: At some point in the swing, one of your knees may interfere with your swing path. Test the waters first. Take a practice swing. If your club misses both knees, stay on your feet. Otherwise…
2. Take a Knee
Rest your left knee on the turf above the hazard while securing your right foot in the bunker. Tilt forward until the club hovers above the sand behind the ball. This stance lets you generate speed with your arms and hands only, but that’s fine—it’s what you want to do on a bunker swing anyway. Funky stance, same motion. Easier than you think!
Maintaining posture and balance is important in this dicey situation.
Many amateur golfers need to work on the muscles around the pelvis—everything from hamstrings to the tensor fasciae latae in order to draw the ball. The reason they slice or find it difficult to curve the ball from right to left is because they fight a flaw known as early extension.
Their hips thrust toward the ball during the downswing forcing the club to take an out-to-in, slicing path. It has to because the body has blocked the path it would need to take in order to hit a draw.
The good news is there is a simple "cheat" that makes hitting a draw almost foolproof. Make a downswing where you feel like you are holding your back to the target as long as you can.
This move helps prevent early extension and prompts the club to swing down into the ball on a path from inside the target line. As long as the club is slightly closed in relation to this path, you’ll draw it every time.
You can even practice this method on the range by addressing a ball with your feet facing away from the target and hitting three-quarter shots from this stance. It looks silly, but it works.
Once you get used to this feeling, address the ball normally, and make a swing that copies the feeling of holding the back to the target longer.
Whoever said you can’t hit a ball farther unless you swing faster was only telling part of the story.
While it’s true that getting in the gym and working on things such as medicine-ball throws are really going to help you pick up clubhead speed, it’s not necessary for most amateurs.
The reason? Most amateurs don’t swing the club with the efficiency (known as smash factor) of a tour pro. That means, you can get a lot more yardage out of your existing swing if you remember this "cheat": Put your speed in front of the ball.
You’ve probably seen that old drill where an instructor grabs the driver at its neck and swings it so the butt end of the club makes a "whoosh" sound as it passes over the ground. That’s sort of what you are shooting for here. When you make your downswing, your goal should be to have the club moving its fastest through impact.
That means the downswing should gradually increase in speed instead of starting with a violent move at the end of the backswing. A way to check and see if you have improved your efficiency is where your swing finishes. The club should not stop until it wraps around your body
Long greenside sand shots are among the most difficult to master and typically require strong hamstring and glute muscles to stabilize the lower body, as well as powerful trunk rotation.
Forget all of that. If you want to land a 30-yard bunker shot close, leave your sand or lob wedge in the bag and hit the same exact shot with a 9-iron or similar.
That means you still have to open your stance and open the clubface before taking your grip. And you still have to hit about an inch or two behind the ball. And you still have to follow through with good trunk rotation.
You just don’t have to swing very hard. You can make an effortless stroke and the ball will jump out of the sand with some pretty good backspin.
One caveat: The ball will fly lower than normal so don’t attempt this shot if you’re dealing with a steep-face.
A green in regulation from tall grass requires some decent hand-and-arm strength, but you can forego hammer curls and extensor exercises if you remember to "pull the chain"
You need to steepen your swing, and also gather enough clubhead speed at impact to rip through the grass without too much loss of momentum. Feel like you’re pulling the butt end of the club directly into the golf ball.
Keep that butt end moving down and through the grass and then toward the target as the clubhead eventually catches up and rips the ball out.
Instead of generating power with raw strength, you’re using gravity and centrifugal force to do the job.
To really get wound up without improving core stability or mobility in the mid-back, you can do something at address and something when you swing. So this is two cheats in one.
At address, drop your trail foot (right for right-handed players) two inches away from the ball and flare that foot away from the target.
Then, when you swing. It’s a move many great golfers have made. Just remember that you have to plant that heel again as you start the downswing. Both are designed to improve mobility in the torso and counter its lack of independent movement from the lower body.
You pull your tee shot, and you follow it along the treeline, where you think it ends up out of bounds, but you can’t be sure. What’s the correct course of action? Take the cart up and look for your ball? Play another just in case and hope you find the first? If you don’t know how to properly handle this situation, you could be costing yourself unnecessary strokes.
More often than not, if you’re unsure whether your shot stayed in, you should play it safe and hit a provisional ball. By playing a provisional ball, you save your group the time of going out and searching for your first shot only to return to the tee when you can’t find it, and you help your score by avoiding being penalized stroke and distance.
Before playing your new ball, it’s important to fully understand the rules and circumstances under which you’re allowed to legally use a provisional ball.