By Matt Keel
When I am deciding on the next topic I want to write about; I look for corrections to simple mistakes, I see golfers make on a consistent basis. One simple mistake I see golfers make is not differentiating between how to hit a standard pitch shot and a bunker shot. I see golfers who hit a pitch shot like they should hit a bunker shot and hit a bunker shot like they should hit a pitch shot. There are three small changes you can make to your alignment, clubface, and finish that will help you shave some strokes off your game.
When setting up for a pitch shot, first line your clubface, to your target. Next, align your body, so it is also square to your target line. Figure 1 shows this setup. When you hit a pitch shot, it is important to finish your swing with the toe of the club pointing up. If you are finishing with the clubface pointing upward, you are likely to blade the ball. So, make sure the toe of your club is pointing upward at the end of your swing. Figure 2 shows the club position with the toe pointing upward.
A bunker shot should be approached differently. First, align your clubface open to the right of your target. Next, align your body left of your target. Figure 3 shows how to line up for a bunker shot. When you finish your swing for a bunker shot, it is important to make sure the face of the club is facing up at the end. If the toe of the club finishes pointing upward, you are likely going to take too much sand, or else you may hit the ball before the sand. So, make sure the face of your club is pointing upward at the end of your swing. Figure 4 shows the club position with the toe pointing upward.
When you are hitting a pitch, you are on grass, and when hitting a bunker shot, you are hitting out of the sand. Because the surfaces you are hitting from differ, you need to approach the shots differently. Understanding these small differences will help you drop a few strokes off your score.
Matt Keel is the Director of Instruction at Wildfire Golf Club located at the JW Marriott at Desert Ridge. For any questions or information about golf lessons, email Matt at Mattkeel@pga.com or visit the website www.Mattkeelgolf.com.
Pitching vs. Bunker
By Matt Keel