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Golf Articles by Nigel Gibson (PGA Professional Kingston Heath, VIC)

Financial Review Article March 10th 2001

Do you sometimes leave the ball in the bunker or skull it over the green?

This is a typical problem for many amateur players. The main problem is that the leading edge of your sand iron is digging into the sand creating too much sand between the clubface and the ball. When this occurs you tend to leave the ball in the bunker. Once this happens a few times most players then attempt to enter the sand closer to the ball. In the end you are trying to enter the sand that close to the ball that you end up striking the ball first and sending the ball over the green.

On good lies where the ball is sitting up on top of the sand the secret is to have the back edge or bounce of the sand iron entering the sand first so the club then slides through the sand cutting out just a thin layer. To do this we need to set the clubface slightly open (about 10 - 20 degrees) and the butt end of the grip pointing toward your belt buckle. This will promote the back edge of the club to enter the sand first.

All that is required from here is a narrow cut of sand. Many players still attempt to try and really dig the ball out of the sand and end up dropping their body level to do so. A good drill is to make swings in the practice bunker just taking narrow cut of sand about the size of a $20 note. Make sure that you have set the clubface slightly open and at set up you have started with the butt of the club pointing toward your belt buckle. Once this is working properly you need to check that you have the club entering the sand continuously in the same spot. This is quite easy to check. Simply draw a line in the sand and use this line as the position that the ball would be at set up(generally just slightly forward of center). Make swings going through this line. You are looking to have the line through the middle of the divot. After completing this drill be sure to have a few practice shots in the bunker using a line in the sand to check where the club enters and exits the sand in relation to where the ball was laying.

However if the ball is plugged beneath the sand the clubface will have to dig rather than slide. To set the club to dig, slightly close the clubface and set your hands a little in front of the ball as you would for a chip shot. Once again you can use the drill that was mentioned above to ensure that the clubface is entering and exiting the sand correctly.

You will have a great opportunity to watch the Australian Tour Players in action over the next few weeks. Be sure to pay particular attention to how they go about playing these types of shots around the greens.



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