Battle with the sand

by Ryan Olroyd, golf professional at Rio Verde Country Club

For a lot of golfers, the greenside bunker shot is one of the most feared shots in golf—and for good reason. There you and your golf ball are looking at a big, deep pit filled with a sandy substance with no help in sight. I’m scared…can somebody help? Here are a few tips to help you to overcome your fear of sand and safely extract your ball from bunkers. Here’s what to do:


Think and act aggressively; the sand can sense a fearful golfer.
Pick the appropriate club—usually the sand wedge.
Dig and twist your feet into the sand with a wider-than-normal stance and at the same time bring your target side foot one-half step back (a.k.a. an open stance).
Look where you want the ball to land and visualize blasting the sand all the way to that landing point.
Adjust your clubface a little open to expose the bottom part of the club (the bounce). The bounce is your partner by helping the club glide through the sand.
Play the ball closer to your target side foot (a.k.a. forward in your stance).
Lean a bit more weight on your target side foot.

Note: The greenside bunker shot should be easy because we don’t have to hit the ball! All we have to do is blast the sand an inch or two behind the golf ball and the sand will carry the ball out onto the green. Okay, now I’m feeling better!


With your eyes focusing an inch or two behind the ball, make an aggressive,confident swing by making sure you get the club up in the air quickly on your backswing and follow through to a full finish, blasting the sand out to your landing point.

Smile! You’ve won The Battle on the Beach!


Draw a line in the sand and practice hitting the sand out onto the green.
Where the sand goes is where your ball goes, so take a nice, aggressive swing to get the sand on the green in front of you.
Don’t lean back, keep your weight on your forward foot throughout the entire swing.
When playing a new course try to find a practice bunker to get a feel for the texture of the sand—it’s probably different from your home club.