Bunker Compensations

Had a student ask for tips on various bunker conditions… here are my responses:

On an Uphill bunker shot you want to pre-set your weight up the hill into the front leg playing the ball on that foot. Your center is up the hill across from that foot. You do NOT want to open the face in that the slope is already adding loft. If it is a short shot choke down. Use your front shoulder to push straight back, then the hips unwind to rotate to face the target. Let your body rotation impact the sand an inch behind the ball and keep turning. The faster you rotate through impact the farther or higher the ball goes… or your can push back farther and rotate completely at a slower pace for a “drop out of the sky” kind of effect.

On Downhill bunker shot (toughest shot in golf), you want to open up the face and your stance so you can swing across the slope. This gives the path a more level environment vs. a path following the down slope (too hard to get the ball up and stop with a path down the slope). Stopping the ball on a downhill bunker shot is usually the tough thing. You must also commit to this shot to pull it off, you can’t quit on it. Needs practice to build confidence

The buried lie you want to first create what they call a Dig Sole, which is closing the face or hooding the face a bit. What this does is to remove some of the built in bounce in the SW, so the club can now penetrate much easier down through the sand and pull out your buried lie. You must use your body rotation and mass to keep turning to use the sand to bring the ball up and out. The ball will roll more and you must compensate for it.

Controlling distance depends on how deep the ball sits in the sand and how much sand you need to go through to move the ball. This just takes practicing various scenarios of bunker shots to gain experience and confidence. The big key… use your body rotation to execute all these shots. Old golf instruction says to use your hands and arms to hit through the sand, but Old Style is not nearly as reliable as using your body turn… Ross

Don’t Keep Your Head Down – Turn

A golfer sent me this question in an email and I thought a few of you might be suffering from this.
Q. – My biggest problem is…I just can’t keep my head down and my eyes on the ball just before striking the ball. Any hints on how to correct this problem?

A. – I suspect that your setup may have the ball too far back in your stance causing you to feel like you need to use your hands to hit quickly before you hit the ground, so you raise up to allow the hands and arms to pass. I can’t tell you for sure until I see your swing video but if it is, this will help. Move the ball just inside front foot. Keep 60% weight on front foot during the backswing and then just unwind to face the target. The ball will be in perfect position… but you need to turn. Most golfers end up with their weight on the back foot, then slide forward and hit at the ball with their hands. The golf swing rotates, a rotary, turning, athletic unwinding move. I don’t teach keep your head still because it stays still as a side effect of the proper movement … unwinding vs hitting with hands. So move that ball forward and turn!!… Ross

Coming Over the Top – Golf

First, I don’t use this term since it does not occur using Large Muscles to control the golf swing, but I get asked how to fix this often. Here is a quick definition of how you develop this problem and how to prevent it from happening.

Q: Ross, Whats the easiest way to stop coming over the top and also to get more power

A: The most common reason for a need to have a “Coming Over the Top” recovery move, is that the takeaway came inside, usually do to the hands taking over and pulling the club inside and (or) the hips over rotating on their own during the backswing that adds to the problem. Result… the club is too far behind you.

The Correct Move: If you push the club straight back and up, using the front shoulder, you will be in an ideal position to use your lower body (hips) to start the downswing and unwind all the way to face the target. This removes the need for the over the top move. It also removes the need to hit at the ball with the hands. Just unwind and hit the ball with your body turn.

Temporary Help: While you are learning your new takeaway, if you Start the Downswing using the hips to unwind, your over the top move will be controlled and go along for the ride. Now you will still be returning from the inside (not good), but your over the top problem will be in check. Also be aware this will create a new ball flight but it’s a start. The Real Key… fix your takeaway and backswing.

One last thing… yes more power since the shoulders will control winding up against the lower body resisting… MUCH MORE POWER!

Here are some great drills that will help:

Large Muscles Drill
The Ross Move
Front Foot Drill
Straight Arm Drill

What is A Golf Swing?

The Golf Swing is a combination of Elements.  These elements are comprised of an Analysis of the conditions and current situation, then a Decision on the kind of shot and club needed, and a Routine to recall, remind and prepare your body to produce the shot that you’ve take before on the course or at practice.

Now each one of these elements have their own concerns.  For example, the Analysis will consider the weather, the lie of the ball, the conditions of the golf course, what the ball will do once it leaves and is in the air, and how it will react once it lands.  From those considerations, you’ll start to make decisions on shot and club and risk/reward.  The risk/reward is like gambling between different shots or strategies you might take, to minimize the number of strokes to finish the hole and protect your attitude.  An example might be, laying up in front of the green then chipping close with a 1 putt vs. trying to hit the green from the rough with a 3 wood and hope it stops and probably 2 or maybe 3 putt.

The Routine is an automatic pre-shot check list to reassure yourself that you have not overlooked something you want to do.  Visualize your shot, check key Setup concerns (grip, elbows, shaft, alignment, balance, ball position), Look at the target and Imagine* the body movements you’re about to make. Use mental Keywords to help trigger the particular movements or tempo you are working on.  Then checking your Finish position for balance or divot for feedback on path.

As a golfer you may be aware of all or very few of these elements and concerns.  Better players have learned the value of a productive routine and can rely on it in times of pressure.  The routine is “familiar” like a friend you can trust.


* Sending mental images of how your body is about to move is very powerful once you are setup and just before you start the club back.  If you send these images at this exact moment then go, there is almost no way your body can override them.  The same is with bad images.  If you see yourself topping the ball or shanking, you body will think you want that shot and reproduce it,  It is critical to visualize what you want to do.