Women’s golf tips: The 2 keys for a great bunker game

There are two things you need to hit a good shot from a greenside bunker: sand and speed.

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Getting out of greenside bunkers can be one of the most elusive skills for female golfers. If you fit into this category, I feel your pain. I was there!

I was playing Division I golf at Furman University, one of the top schools in the country at the time, and my greenside sand game was really not good at all, to say the least. I would listen to all the advice given — and believe me, there was plenty — and I could kind of make it work in practice, but rarely in competition under pressure.

When I entered the full-time teaching world, it all finally started to make sense. The advice I was being given was great for a high-speed, strong, typically male golfer, but in hindsight, it just didn’t apply to me.

The truth is, you need two things to be a good greenside bunker player as a woman: sand and speed.

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First, you need to be willing to take sand — and a fair amount of it. Hitting the sand and making a mess by throwing that sand all over the place out of the bunker and onto the green doesn’t typically coincide with our female instinct, but it is necessary.

I suggest you practice just that. Forget about the ball, and just take your regular full swing and get really good at throwing the sand out of the bunker as far as you can. (This may be best practiced away from your practice green, to avoid upsetting your superintendent.)

You may discover that you need quite a huge swing with full speed to do this, and therefore you are learning a valuable lesson. For most women, extracting the ball from a bunker requires a full swing.

Two very important fundamentals to help you to take sand before under and after your golf ball come from your setup.

— Your ball position should be forward in your stance, much like your driver, and in line with the instep on your lead foot. This will help you to have the club enter the sand before the golf ball, and ideally keep the club head driving into the sand for a long period of time.

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— Second, you want to dig your feet into the sand enough to bury the soles of your shoes. This will help to lower the bottom of your swing so that keeping your club in the sand for an extended divot is more likely.

A proper setup will help you to take the appropriate amount of sand, and the practice time where you throw the sand out of the bunker and onto the grass will help you to understand the speed and full swing needed to accomplish this.

My advice would be to keep everything else simple and ignore all the exhausting advice that probably doesn’t apply to you, like opening your clubface and stance, and trying to change your swing path from that of your normal swing.

Instead, focus on getting really great at taking sand and swinging with speed. Setup well and make your regular golf swing. Always make sure the advice you take applies to you and your swing, and your golf game will thank you for it.

For more tips from Kellie Stenzel, click here. And for more women’s golf content, visit golf.com/womensgolf.

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