Bunker play is typically the last skill a developing golfer learns, and the shakiest skill in even an experienced golfer's bag. That's because it is counter-intuitive to just about every other aspect of golf, which focuses on solid, ball-first contact.
Anyone who has sent a bladed shot sailing over the green and into someone's backyard knows that it's essential to strike the sand such that the ball flies high and lands softly on the putting surface.
Sounds simple, but it's endlessly complicated, which is why Martin Hall's new series on GolfPass, Build a Better Game: Bunkers is such a welcome addition. With the first of two volumes premiering today, it is a comprehensive tutorial on how to escape the sand you may encounter. All segments are worth your time, but here are three that I found particularly useful.
Basic Splash Shot: Mirrors and toothbrushes
Without getting too technical, having an understanding of how a wedge interacts with the sand in a bunker can go a long way toward helping you become a better bunker player. In this segment, Hall starts out with a quick and very simple explanation of bounce - why your wedge has it and how it will help you escape from greenside bunkers. From that fundamental starting point, his recap of the basics of greenside bunker shots makes total sense, from ball position to alignment to technique. You'll also appreciate Hall's clever use of two visual aids: a mirror and a toothbrush.
Plugged Lie: Turn the toe into a knife
No golfer ever wants to see a ball plugged in a bunker, but it happens a lot, especially on courses whose bunkers have soft sand. There are two ways to escape this nasty predicament: one fairly basic and one a little bit more advanced. The basic technique comes from a former Ryder Cup player, while the more advanced one comes with a must-see highlight courtesy of 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
Fairway Bunkers: 'Three-L Protocol'
Part of what makes Hall one of the world's most effective teachers of golf is the way he can make complicated concepts easy to remember. His advice for escaping fairway bunkers is no exception, with what he calls the "Three-L Protocol." It sounds formal and complicated but, true to form, it is actually remarkably simple. If you struggle out of fairway bunkers, this will be a wonderful guide for you.