The essence of a good bunker shot is the clubface sliding under the ball, creating a cushion of sand to send it high into the air so it can land softly on the green. Doing this requires two “opens:” 1) an open stance and 2) an open clubface.
To help you visualize both of these, get into what you feel is an open stance and ask a friend to lay an alignment stick or club inside your lead foot. If you do it correctly (with your front foot flared out), the stick or club will point between the ball and the hole. When you swing, keep your weight over the stick throughout, which will help you create a descending blow into the sand.
The stick also serves as a reminder of the other “open”; as you swing through, make sure the leading edge of your clubhead matches up with the alignment stick in your release. This ensures that the face remains open and all but guarantees a high-flying, soft-landing shot from the sand.
Bernie Najar is the director of instruction at Caves Valley in Owings Mills, Md.