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Controlling Distance in the Sand
The Importance of Set Up: Position Yourself For Accuracy

There are many factors that can influence how far your ball flies out of the sand. Some of these include: club face position, foot depth, length of your swing, speed of your swing, texture of the sand and your set up. This article focuses on the set up, namely your ball position, weight distribution and aim.

Your set up will influence the distance of your bunker shotsYour Set Up Influences the Distance

Lets start with aim first. For most bunker shots there is no reason to set up any other way than perfectly square to your target line. Having your feet, knees, hips and shoulders running square to the target line always makes square contact in the sweet spot of the face more likely. Making square contact enables you to have better control over the distance and spin that you put on the ball. In certain cases, you may want to make a steeper golf swing to get the ball to pop up quicker, have more back spin and travel shorter. A good example would be if you were in a pot bunker or one with a very high lip. Having an open stance will definitely take distance off the shot.

Weight distribution also has a big influence on how far the ball will travel. If you lean forward onto your front foot, you will naturally have more of a steep angle of attack. This will of course make you hit down deeper into the sand catching more sand between your club face and the ball. The result is a ball that won't fly out with much distance. The opposite is true if you have your weight set on your back foot. Leaning back will cause you to come in with a more shallow angle of attack, taking less sand and flying the ball farther.

Lastly, ball position also has an affect on the distance of the ball. A ball that is played back in the stance will come out short as it is pushed deeper into the sand with a descending swing. A ball positioned in front of the bottom of the arc will travel farther as it is caught more on the up swing and less sand is used.

As illunstrated above, your set up has a huge impact on the distance of the ball when you are shooting out of a bunker. For a quick guide follow this:

  • Average distance = ball middle, weight middle
  • Longer distance = ball forward, weight back
  • Shorter distance = ball back, weight forward
Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

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