How To Hit A Sand Wedge – It’s Easier Than It Looks
Like everything in the game of golf it is truly a game of challenges. There are many types of techniques that you need to learn to be successful on the course for every situation. Getting your ball out of the sand can often look like a struggle, but when done properly it just becomes a routine part of the game and those fears tend to subside with more practice.
Learning how to hit a sand wedge properly will get you well on your way to lower scores and impressing yourself with great escapes from the greenside bunker like a pro. That is our focus here, as a fairway bunker would be a completely different approach with longer clubs and not typically using your sand wedge.
Setup With Confidence
It all starts here as the foundation of a successful shot. You’re going to want to have an open stance to start with and align your feet, hips, and shoulders to the left of your target for right-handed golfers, and align to the right of your target if you are a lefty golfer. This sets you up for an out to in swing that cuts across the sand and ball.
The clubface needs to be in an open position. If your body alignment is set up to the left of your target then your clubface should be angled to the right of your target, and opposite for lefties. By opening the clubface you are increasing the loft of the sand wedge and allowing it to slide through the sand a lot easier.
By weakening your grip on your top hand slightly, it encourages the clubface to stay open and not have the hand accidentally rotating the club into a closed position at impact. The ball position should be just forward in your stance, opposite your front heel.
A regular greenside bunker shot is all about technique and not strength. There is not a long takeaway in the swing or a lot of body movement either. Bring the club back so your hands are at about shoulder height and make sure your grip pressure is light. Break your wrists early on your backswing and cock them fully. This is a very “handsy” type of shot just using your hands and arms while your lower body stays relatively quiet.
Your swing through impact of the ball is dominated with your lower hand, guiding the club and almost throwing it towards the ball. You are not hitting down too steeply, but rather sliding it through the ball, entering the sand 1 to 3 inches behind the ball depending on what you are trying to achieve with the shot. Closer to the ball will give you more ball height, while further away allows the ball to run more at a lower trajectory. Either way, you want to take sand with the ball.
Trying to pick the ball cleanly without any sand can lead to disaster, as your ball can very easily get away from you and fly over the green way too far and past your intended target.
Accelerate Through The Shot
One of the most common mistakes of an inexperienced or poor bunker player is decelerating through the impact of the ball. Trust me, I understand the fear involved when attempting this shot but that usually stems from a previous experience of hitting the ball too clean and not hitting through it. Once again, you must take sand with the ball and focus on your club head speed getting faster as it travels through the sand and then powers through the ball.
Remember your lower hand is the guide hand. The way the sand wedge is designed with the heavy weight at the head, wider flange at the back, and a lower sole than the leading edge, it really allows the club to slide through the sand rather than digging in.
Playing A Buried Lie
Once in a while you will encounter a situation where you get to your ball and find that it is virtually plugged or buried in the sand. You will need a slightly different approach to the methods described for a regular bunker shot. You will need to find a way to make the club penetrate the sand as deeply as possible.
Start by entering the sand about 2 inches behind the ball and take a divot at that point. The swing is going to be a lot more steep and vertical, still using an open stance and clubface. You are again going to be moving in an out to in type of swing path with your hands ahead of the ball and body leaning slightly towards the target. Apply extra force with that lower hand and push down firmly, you are not swinging through this kind of shot and will have almost no follow through as the sand grabs the club head after impact usually about a foot after you make contact.
Have Some Fun At The Beach
When your ball ends up in the sand, have some fun with it. Sure it’s going to take some practice and commitment to get better at it but it’s totally worth it. Using the right approach and technique will give you more control over your complete game. Now that you know how to hit a sand wedge, it will allow you to be more aggressive with approach shots, knowing you are fully capable of splashing your ball onto the green from a greenside bunker.
I promise you if you put the time and effort in at perfecting your technique you will without a doubt lower your scores and look like a pro doing it. Personally for myself, I find it the most rewarding shot in golf. It’s all about touch, feel and technique, and if you happen to hole one from the bunker, look out! That right there makes up for any mistakes all day.
If you have any questions or if I can help in any way please hit me up in the comments below and I will definitely get back to you. All the best on your successful journey from the beach!