Bunker shots can confound the average recreational golfer. It’s funny, because it usually is not a lack of knowledge that is the culprit. Most golfers of any experience know, in theory, what do.

How hard can it be, right? You open the clubface of your sand wedge, make a good, strong swing and watch as the ball pops up and lands softly near the hole.

If only anything in golf was that easy.

Instead, golfers lack confidence in the sand and instead of hitting that soft shot toward the hole they stab at the ball or close the clubface. The resulting shot sends the ball careening out of control, or worse yet, the ball remains hopelessly in the same bunker.

Despite our struggles, sand shots are not particularly difficult. It comes down to knowing the mechanics of a proper swing from the sand and knowing what to visualize.

It all starts with the club.

“One of the most important things to recognize is that sand wedges are built with a little bounce, which means that you need to open the face up so the sand wedge slides through the sand instead of square and it digs in the sand,” said Jeff Fought, Black Butte Ranch’s director of golf.

That is easy enough. So why do we still struggle out of the sand?

Sometimes all you need is a good drill and the right visualization, Fought said.

When practicing out of the sand, it’s helpful to make a clean footprint in the practice bunker and set a ball toward the heel of that print. Then practice sand shots by aiming for the back of the footprint, which should be about an inch or less behind the ball, and swinging the club through to the end of the print.

Once you have worked on the drill, take that visualization of hitting through a footprint out onto the course.

“Bunker shots are actually simple shots, and with a little knowledge and practice most golfers can get up and down and into the hole more frequently,” Fought said.

For more information on how to take a lesson from Jeff or any of our Black Butte Ranch instructors, visit blackbutteranch.com/golf/lessons-and-instructions.