Column: A day at the beach

In today’s column, Chilliwack Golf Academy instructor Dick Whitlam talks about how to properly navigate out of a sand trap.

This time of year us golfers have a joke that we can go to the beach and be playing golf at the same time.

This joke refers to sand traps on the golf course.

For most people bunkers are a dreaded place to be, but they shouldn’t be.

The problem is most golfers completely change their swings when they get in a sand trap, when you don’t have to. The only thing that should change is your focus as to where you enter the sand.

The rule of thumb is this; one to two inches before the ball and one to two inches under the ball will produce a soft shot that lands softly on the green. Some golfers actually try to help lift the ball out of the trap by swinging up at it. Or they will try and pick it off the sand. Both are wrong!

The correct way to play the shot is to position the ball in the center of your stance or up to two inches forward of the center of your stance.

Dig your feet into the sand for better traction. Use your normal swing but aim one to two inches before the ball.

Swing in a moderately steep plane and continue one to two inches under the ball. You must swing with conviction and follow through because the sand will act as a pillow.

The ball will ride on the sand so you must hit the sand out of the trap. You can vary the height the ball comes out of the trap by increasing or decreasing the loft on your club.

This is done by opening the face (increasing loft) or closing the face (decreasing loft). Finish your swing with your weight on your lead leg (left leg for a right hander).

Ending your swing with the club face still open will produce higher shots.

There are many variations of sand shots and the better you get at them the more fun it is. Just remember to use your normal swing mechanics and to relax.

Have fun on the beach this summer, whether it’s by the water or at the golf course.


Dick Whitlam is a class “A”, C.P.G.A teaching professional with the Chilliwack Golf Academy. Email – or phone/text 604-819-1141

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