Sand Saver

The Divot Trick

For those of you that struggle to play efficiently out of greenside bunkers, I believe the following tip and practice drill will really help you to understand, visualise and practise the correct technique.

The greenside bunker shot has one major difference to every other golf shot that we play in that it is the only time that we are trying to avoid direct contact between clubface and ball. I always tell my pupils that it is an explosion of sand that propels the ball out of the bunker and that explosion can only happen correctly if the club enters/strikes the sand behind the ball.

Striking into the sand behind the ball and continuing the momentum of the club through it is vital in order to create an explosion significant enough to propel the ball both upward and forward out of the bunker – the ball should almost float atop of a ‘divot’ shaped wedge of sand.

There are many factors that can play a part in where your ball will end up (loft, length of swing, speed of swing etc) but the following tip is simply to help you first find a consistent and effective technique. Once you have done so, you can experiment thereafter to widen the range of shots in your repertoire from the sand.

You may have heard or read that when playing a bunker shot, you should imagine that you are slicing a divot of sand out from under the golf ball? Well, instead of imagining this, I want you to find a few old divots and take them to the practise bunker – (The divots need to be at least 12cm in length and the depth of them should be no more than 2cm.)

The practice drill – Instructions.

  • Lie the divot onto of the sand in the practice bunker and with your hand apply a little pressure downwards. It is not vital to have the grass on the divot
  • completely flush with the sand.
  • Place a golf ball on top of the middle of the divot and assume your set-up position. The ball should be opposite the inside of your left heel, wriggle your feet into the sand to solidify your stance, test the texture of the sand beneath the surface and to lower the base of the swings arc. Be sure that your hands are level with the ball and not ahead of it. (picture 1)
  • Now, I want you to focus on striking down into the sand at the back of the divot and power through with sufficient momentum so that the divot will fly upward and out of the bunker DO NOT focus on the golf ball – your job is to propel the divot out of the bunker! You will find that your golf ball is propelled upward and forward as a result of the divot trick. (picture 2)

When you have become proficient with this technique simply take the divot away and adopt the same principals.