Greenside Bunker shots are the easiest shots in golf… Right? Well, some people think so, some don’t! Once you can consistently just get the ball out, next you should learn how to better control your distance out of the bunker.
I teach 3 ways to adjust distance when hitting from a greenside bunker.
1) Loft, this is the simplest and most straightforward way to adjust distance. Loft can be adjusted by choosing different clubs or by opening the face of the club you are using (or playing it more square).
2) Length and/or Speed of Swing, this is like hitting a pitch or wedge shot where you adjust the club speed and distance of the shot by swinging bigger or smaller. Oftentimes I will make a good 3/4 backswing and adjust my follow-through to determine shot distance. If I finish belt-high with the face open that should produce a short shot, a full follow-through should result in a longer shot.
3) V-Shaped vs. U-Shaped, this is the most advanced option, and the technique I learned in Tom Watson’s “Getting Up & Down” book. A V-shaped swing is where the player actively hinges the wrist abruptly and unhinges them just as quick near impact in order to create speed and loft. With this technique the body should stay relatively still and passive and the resultant shot will be short, high, and hopefully create plenty of backspin! The U-Shaped Swing is a fuller, wider swing that is more like a shot played from the fairway with good body rotation and less wrist “action”. This technique should help a player fly the ball farther and let it roll out to a distant hole location.