• Simple sand saves

    Simple sand saves
    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 29: Jordan Spieth hits from the bunker to the 13th green during Round Three of the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club on June 29, 2013 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    PGA professional Gavan Levenson illustrates the fundamentals of bunker shots.

    The short game is hugely important in golf. Players often neglect practising these finesse shots and thus struggle around the greens, especially when playing bunker shots. A few fundamentals are essential in order to master these shots.


    We start by aligning our feet to the left of the target (or right if you are left-handed) as well as opening up the clubface in order to use the bounce and loft of the club, choking down on the club slightly. You then widen your stance and ‘dig’ your feet into the sand for balance and stability. The ball position should be placed slightly forward of centre with the hands pressed forward, and more weight should be placed on the front foot.


    The club should be taken back on the line of your feet, causing a fractionally out-to-in swing path through impact. Hinging the wrists on the way back will create a slightly steeper angle of attack, thus making for an explosive bunker shot which is exactly what we want. It is important to turn the shoulders and to not pick up the club. The length of the backswing as well as the aggressiveness of the shot should determine the distance the ball will travel, as well as the height and spin.


    The club should enter the sand first, about a ball behind the ball, from an out-to-in path, and the right foot should stay anchored through the shot. This will create more consistency. Keep your weight towards your front leg during the entire movement. Ensure that the clubface remains open throughout the swing, accelerating through impact. Imagine splashing the sand to the hole.


    The longer the shot, the longer the club should be. Take into consideration the lie and slope when deciding on your desired shot, and also look at the amount of green you have to work with. And please remember to always rake the bunker after you have hit your shot.


    Gavan Levenson turned professional in 1978 and has won eight professional titles, including the 1985 SA Open. He is a Titleist staff player and a Master PGA professional at the Gavan Levenson Golf Academy at Glendower Golf Club. Contact Gavan on 082 990 7186 or email him at [email protected].

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