Luke Donald is renowned as being the best in the business from bunkers. Dan Whittaker takes a look at how he performs his magic
If you could pick anyone’s game from which to take bunker tips then Luke Donald would be at the top of plenty of people’s lists. So what makes him so good from the sand?
Someone has all of his 3D data and they say that he has as much forearm rotation in the short-game shots as anybody so that will really open up the clubface a lot and when he comes through and delivers that rotation back it makes it very easy to use the bounce of the club.
Donald is then able to make fuller swings and the more that you are able to open up the clubface on a bunker shot then it is easier to get the height that you need.
His last made cut was 376 days ago at this event in 2018.
Since then, @LukeDonald has battled injury and only made three TOUR starts.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 22, 2019
It’s almost like he is playing a semi flop shot, really opening the clubface, and then he lets the club pop under on the way through, letting that bounce work under and retaining the loft on the way through. He works the hands under at impact so the follow-through is narrower.
He plays it quite far forward in the green-side recoveries, you wouldn’t play a flop shot from the middle of your stance so you also wouldn’t from sand.
You also notice that there is quite a distinctive sound to his sand shots, the thud is very a soft one so he’s coming through at a very shallow angle. He takes a little bit of sand but not loads.
We’ve been told for so long to dig our feet in, hit down on it, take loads of sand and that just adds up to a chunk and run where there is very little control on the spin and trajectory. If you are quite shallow then it is easier to control the landing point and height and spin.
It also makes it a lot easier to play the longer bunker shot as there is a very similar contact.
Luke Donald bunker tips: What to practise
Use the left leg as more of an anchor point to move around and learn to open up the clubface more in the backswing.
To get that extra loft in the takeaway people try to do it by wrist cock but you do it by forearm rotation, if you roll your forearms open, both of them, and rotate the arms then you will start to open the clubface. It’s not great for a normal shot but it’s great from the sand.
A great analogy is the Pete Cowen one where you put some sand on the clubface and then try and imagine throwing it over your right shoulder.
It’s about finding your own way as everyone has a different feel. I personally struggle to play a flop shot thinking about my left arm but when I think about my right arm opening the face I find it a lot easier.
If you have the idea of the Cowen one then it’s a good starting point of finding something that will work for you.