One of the best ever bunker players reveals his key from the sand
Shots from bunkers around the green are some of the most difficult in the sport. Even for the best players in the world, getting up-and-down from a bunker is no easy task. In fact, the PGA Tour average hovers right around 50 percent for sand save percentage year after year. And even the 2019 Tour leader in sand save percentage Francesco Molinari only got up-and-down from the bunker 65 percent of the time.
For amateurs, the percentages are even more bleak. According to Golf WRX, scratch golfers get up-and-down from the sand 42 percent of the time. That number drops to 20 percent for 10 handicaps. And your average weekend hack? They get up-and-down just 9 percent of the time when finding the sand. Bunker shots are not easy.
Luckily, there are drills you can work on to improve you sand play. Luke Donald, commonly regarded as one of the best bunker players in the history of the sport, recently posted video on Instagram with a drill for improved bunker play that is useful for amateurs and pros alike.
A common flaw with bunker shots is players playing the ball too far back in their stance and delofting the club, which causes the leading edge to dig into the sand on the downswing. A proper bunker shot requires the player to maintain loft on the wedge throughout the swing to utilize the bounce and splash the ball out.
“On the way back, you want to maintain the loft,” Donald says. “Naturally you want to increase the loft as it goes back.”
His drill calls for the player to pick up sand on the clubface after taking their normal stance. Then, you should make a backswing and try to throw the sand over your shoulder.
“If I get the clubface too shut, the sand is just going to fall off,” Donald says. “Once I do that good feeling, I’ll go replicate it in a real shot. The ball comes out nice, soft and high.”
You can watch the video in its entirety below.
There’s definitely something to be learned from the sand play of the former world No. 1. During his ascent to being the best player in the world, Donald led the PGA Tour in sand save percentage in 2009 and 2010 and he also led European Tour in sand saves in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The man has some serious swag when it comes to bunker play.
Shots from the bunker will never be easy, but with this drill you can become more comfortable when faced with some of the most difficult shots in golf.
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