I play with amateurs every week in pro-ams. One of the biggest mistakes that I see amateurs make is not using the sand wedge the way it was designed. The sand wedge is designed to get the ball out of the bunker quite easily – if you use it correctly. I carry two sand wedges; one is the TaylorMade rac TP wedge with 54 degrees of loft and 10 degrees of bounce and the other is the TaylorMade rac TP wedge with 60 degrees of loft and 6 degrees of bounce. I’ll use both out of the sand, depending on the lie and how much I want the ball to release after it lands on the green.
Regardless of your loft and bounce configuration, the main point to realize is that the sand wedge must be opened up so that it looks like the face of the club is pointing almost straight up in the air. By doing this, the bottom of the club will slide right through the sand and under the ball, without actually touching the ball.
Most amateurs play a greenside bunker shot with the club square or only slightly open; this set-up will cause the club to dig and makes it more difficult for the club to slide under the ball. This set-up decreases the margin of error. In the greenside bunker shot there is actually quite a bit of margin for error if the club is opened up correctly.
To get out of the greenside bunker, you’ll need to make a proper set-up. Align your body a little left of the target and open up the sand wedge so back of the club is almost flat to the sand. Play the ball forward in your stance-this way the club will enter the sand a few inches behind the ball. Now just make your normal golf swing, keeping in mind that you accelerate through the hitting area in a normal golf swing. The sand wedge will slide right under the ball the way it was designed and the ball will come out nice and soft.
Your next step should be to step up to the green and tap it in for your par!