Bunker Shots

Phil Mickelson says avoid this 1 big bunker mistake when in the sand

phil mickelson hits a bunker shot during the 2022 u.s. open

Bunker shots are some of the most difficult in golf, but there's one mistake recreational players commit that makes them even harder.

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Pros make hitting from the sand look easy, but weekend warriors knows it’s anything but simple. Bunker shots spell doom for most recreational players, and finding the sand can be a scorecard killer.

Part of the reason these shots are so difficult is that the technique is different from any other shot on the course. Instead of trying to make contact with the ball, your goal is to cut underneath in the sand and blast the ball out. More often than not, though, this results in catching too much ball and sailing the green or fatting it and leaving it in the bunker.

If you want to become a high-level player, you need to be able to play from the bunkers. While you’d like to avoid every sand trap on the course, you’re sure to find bunkers from time to time, and it’s important you know how to escape them.

Learning the proper technique is a good place to start. And if you want to master this technique, you need to know one of the biggest mistakes to avoid, which Phil Mickelson outlines in the video below.

Avoid this bunker mistake

Before you hit your bunker shot, you need to nail your setup — but this is where most recreational players make their big mistake. Instead of playing the ball off their front foot, they set up with the ball in the middle of their stance.

“They have it too far back in their stance,” Mickelson says. “Like it’s in the middle.”

What you want to do for the proper setup is put the ball way forward in your stance. From here you can put all the weight on your lead side, open up the face and drive the club down into the sand behind the ball.

“The ball pops up higher and softer,” Mickelson says.

This technique engages the bounce of the club and allows you to use the backside of the wedge to your advantage. Now instead of worrying about the leading edge digging into the sand and leaving the ball in the bunker, you can glide underneath the ball and pop it up and onto the green.

“So if you open it up and put weight forward,” Mickelson says, “you can drive it down into the sand and it’ll pop up.”

It’s as easy as that — and it all starts with the proper setup.

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