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Bunkers Shots - Chipping from Sand Traps

Nothing ruins a hole that seems to be going well like a short iron shot that lands in a sand trap next to the green. Just a little bit more distance, or a little bit more left or right, and you could have avoided the sand bunker. But, what's done is done, and now it is time to focus on a successful chip from the sand.

Many golfers think a sand shot is an extreme alteration from a normal chip shot. While some techniques may differ slightly or may be more exaggerated, the basic goal is the same; get the ball in the air a short distance and let it roll with the green. The same short, compact swing is needed, and it is an absolute necessity you "chop" under the ball.

One of the main differences between a normal chip shot and a sand shot is that the club-face should be a little more open, or facing up. When the club slices through the sand, think of trying to keep the club face parallel with the sky (or ground depending on how you look at it...). Make sure you make contact with the sand as close to the ball as possible, and on your backswing keep your hands a little closer to your body than normal. In other words, don't extend your arms as far as they would normally go, keep your elbows bent and bring the club face up more directly to the sky.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to make sure you swing through the sand. Do not stop when you make contact! This will result in the clubface most likely making contact with the sand too far behind the ball and the ball will go a very short distance. This often leads to the "4-out" bunker shot.

Following the above is a good recipe to get out of soft sand with a steeper lip around the bunker. The shot becomes a little different with a more shallow sand bunker and denser (wetter) sand. When this is the case, less speed is required. I would shorten up your back swing even more, and try to take a slightly larger "divot" than on a normal sand shot. This will create more of a line drive.

The best advice is to practice. If you wait until you get to the course to "practice" your sand shots, you'll more than likely not hit the ball the way you intend. Since bunker chip shots come far less often than normal chip shots, it is important to take extra practice swings until you are hitting the ball consistently.

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