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Bunker shots - what tip really helped you?

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I saw a thread about the ball position or something like that in regards to bunker shots.  I wanted to take a little time, if possible, to discuss the #1 all time, best tip, best advice, best lesson, you ever had regarding getting out of the bunker the first time...

For me personally, I struggled with bunker shots for years and years.  Last summer I remember chatting with one of the drummers/percussionists in the Shriners "Million Dollar Band" here in town (I currently play 2nd chair trumpet).  He too is a golfer and is also in the Shriners "ACCA Swingers" golf club.  Anyway, one thing led to another and we were talking golf, and I casually mentioned that I always had troubles getting out of the bunker.  I've been so tempted to just grab the ball and toss it out or kick it out when nobody was looking! :-P  He told me (since we're both Freemasons as well as Shriners), "Getting out of a bunker is easy...  We all know 'Brother' George Washington on the dollar bill, right?  Well, practice this next time you're at a range with a sand trap bunker...."
Imagine a dollar bill underneath the golf ball.  The ball is covering George Washington's picture.
Now, we don't want to hit "Brother George" do we?  That would be against our Masonic obligation!
What you do is hit the dollar bill out from underneath him.
(in other words, hit about 2" behind the ball, while the sand wedge clubface is open, and it will slide underneath the ball).

Long story short - I thought about what he said, and tried it out last year at one of the local driving ranges where they have natural grass tees and a practice bunker way off to the side.  I tossed an old Pinnacle ball in the trap and shifted my heels of my golf shoes down a bit.  Thought long and hard about what he said, used my 58° sand wedge while imagining a dollar bill under the ball, and WHACK! --- I hit it right out of the trap with a descending blow, just like the pros do!  It works!!!

What do you think of this method?


Edited by butchammon
fixed a typo...

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Hit closer to the ball than you think. PGA Tour pros hit very, very close to the ball. An inch, two at most, typically speaking.

People who picture the dollar bill usually enter the sand way too early - as if they're trying to hit ALL of the dollar bill (and then some before and after it) than JUST the dollar bill.

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Best tips for me from bunkers are the two ‘timeless’ ones, combined. 

‘Thump the sand’ (behind, and under) the ball, and ‘follow through.’ 

A couple of others if those don’t work for you, for whatever reason:

NEVER decelerate into a bunker shot. ALWAYS accelerate into the ‘thump’.

Hit it harder than you think you ‘need’ to to just barely get it out. As long as you don’t hit the ball, you’ll get out and stay on the green almost every time. You can hit it (the sand) pretty hard.


Have no fear in the bunker. 

Even as a poor player, I am now fearless in the sand cause I know I can get it out of anything that’s not buried or right against the lip (and some of those, too), since I can be aggressive and thump it pretty hard. 

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The one tip I heard that helped me was from Paul Azinger. He said to "splash the sand" out from under the ball, and the ball will come out. Now, there are variations of this for more advanced players. If you want the ball to stop quickly, hit closer to it. If you want the ball to run out. you play the "chunk and run" and hit further behind the ball.

But, nothing beats practice! Once I found a place with a bunker to practice from, I lived in it until I learned how to play the sand shot.

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