The greenside bunker is one of the most feared hazards that golfers will face. It is commonly deep or semi-deep, and will definitely give the impression that it is actually difficult. With the right perception, knowledge and mindset, it is quite easy!
First thing to keep in mind is to treat the bunker shot, just like a pitch shot. Swing the sand wedge smooth and easy. Remove the impression that you need to hit the ball hard, because it is an unnecessary thought. The club head actually hits the sand, and then the sand gets in between the clubface and the ball. Altogether, the physics behind this process takes care of the ball flight.
A good set-up and technique will significantly bring out the best in you to execute an ideal bunker shot. First thing you do is to hold/grip the sand wedge slightly open, approximately 10 degrees, so that you apply more bounce at the sole of the club. A standard sand wedge has a 56-degree loft and a 12-degree bounce.
Assume your address position and square up the stance with a space of at least 1 foot and six inches between your feet. This width will allow you to be more stable during the entire swing. You can slightly open your stance if you choose to, but not necessary.
Going back, while holding the club aligned to the center of the body, set the club head slightly open (about 10 degrees open) and align the leading edge or the club face angle to your left heel. If using a right-hand club, the golf ball will end up favored to your left ankle. Set the club head about 1 inch away from the ball, floating, and not touching the sand at address. Otherwise, you will incur a 2-stroke penalty.
After completing your address, transfer your weight distribution 70 percent favored to the forward foot. Moving the weight favored to the forward foot will enhance a sharper angle of attack on the forward swing. The weight is maintained on the forward foot during the entire swing.
Executing an exaggerated early hinge or cocking of the wrists is another key to absolutely remember. The early hinge starts the same time as the arms and shoulders initiate the takeaway or early part of the backswing. On the forward swing, the body and the club rotate at the same time while returning the club to its original angle, at address. A three-quarter swing is recommended for greenside bunker shots.
The tempo is also crucial! Make certain that it is smooth and continuously accelerating on the forward swing until the follow-through is complete. So, no sudden motions are necessary.
Focus on the process and remove all fears and doubts. Practice these skills as often as possible to increase reliability and confidence, and lower scores.