A Change of Face

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A Change of Face

Sam Greenwood

Sam Greenwood

If you’re anything like my pro-am partners, you dread greenside bunker shots. I’m here to help, with two simple modifications to your approach in bunkers:

  1. Adjust your clubface;
  2. adjust your attitude!

These fixes may seem unrelated, but you must have a confident attitude in order to succeed. And confidence is easier to achieve if it rests on a foundation of good technique.


rolling arms golf

Rolling your arms is the incorrect way to open the clubface.

opening clubface golf

Opening the clubface correctly is a two-step process: First adjust the face, then take your grip with the face open.

Greenside bunker play isn’t complicated: Position the ball forward in your stance and use your normal full swing. But it is vital that you open the clubface. To do this, rotate the shaft so the clubface aims to the right of the target, the grooves facing more toward the sky. Once the clubface is open, take your grip without changing the clubface position.

Most amateurs grip the club normally — with the clubface square — and then twist their arms to open the clubface. This invites disaster because the arms can’t maintain this unnatural position. During the swing they return to their normal position, which means the clubface squares up at impact. A square clubface digs into the sand, resulting in low shots with barely enough forward momentum to leave the bunker.

Rotate the clubface open before you take your grip, then place your hands on the club. (You might even want to do this standing outside the bunker.) Swing the club back as smoothly as you would from the fairway, contact the sand behind the ball, and make sure you follow through. With the clubface open, the thick sole of the sand wedge will slide through the bunker and loft the ball out on a cushion of sand.


dollar long golfIf you open the clubface correctly and invest in a little practice, you’ll find bunker shots are easier than you thought. To ingrain your new-found confidence, imagine that the ball is sitting in the center of a dollar bill. Your goal is to go for the green — not the putting green, but the green of the dollar you’ve pictured beneath the ball. Forget the ball and try to slice a dollar-long swath out of the sand; this means hitting an inch or two behind the ball and keeping the clubhead moving through the sand. Keep this image in mind whenever you face a greenside bunker shot. It’s a sure way to hit paydirt.

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