Playing from the sand often gives people problems. The fact is that bunker shots are not that tough if you have a clear picture of a few fundamentals.
I think most people know that the club must strike the ball first, this is the only shot where the club actually goes underneath the ball. The mistake is often made when too much sand is taken, golfers often compensate for taking too much sand by then not taking enough.
The key to good sand play is taking a shallow bed of sand, the club should be no more than half an inch under the ball. By taking this shallow amount of sand you do not have to hit exactly the right distance behind the ball; the club can enter the sand between one and four inches behind the ball and still have consistent results.
To improve your sand shots first play the ball farther forward in the stance ( even with the left heel), this automatically encourages you to strike the sand first. Open the club face a few degrees, the face should remain open through the shot, this ensures the club will skip through the sand instead of digging in.
Swing the club back and forward equal distance, a good starting place is chest high both ways. At the completion of the swing the hands and club should be in front of the body with the elbows slightly bent, the club face should be turned slightly to the right. Practice bunker shots as they require feel as well as technique, develop a feel for the club skipping through the sand.
Terry Gingell is a PGA professional. For information regarding adult and junior group lessons at Eagle Valley Golf Courses contact Terry, 690-7970.