The 55-yard bunker shot is what I consider to be the toughest shot in golf. It is a shot you can not take a full swing on but you also can't blast it out like a greenside bunker shot.
When it comes to the bunker shots between 15 and 80 yards they require precision but even then you may not get the results you want. In the video below you will see I hit three shots with the same swing and got 3 different results. If your contact is a fraction off the mark the results can differ 10 -15 yards or more.
The sad truth about learning to hit the 55-yard bunker shot is there are not many places to practice it other than on the golf course. This is not ideal unless you have the course to yourself and can hit 5 or 10 balls from a particular spot. The tips I am passing along to you were given to me by a former PGA Tour player. I use to be good at these shots but at the time I also had a place that had a practice area for this. In the New Orleans area, the only golf course that has a short game range to practice this shot is Lakewood Golf Club, however it is limited to about 35yards. This is why I took advantage of my time in Alexandria while at Links On The Bayou. They have a very large short game area with shots up to 100-yards.
One of the first things to determine when in a bunker, whether a greenside or fairway bunker, is to determine your lie. Is the ball sitting down or is it sitting up on top of the sand? This will tell you how the ball will come out and if you can play any shot other than blasting it out.
Once you are ready to hit the 55-yard bunker shot here is how to set up for it.
Choke up on the grip of the club. - Choking up on the grip shortens the distance from your hands to the top of the sand to help you hit the ball first.
Take an athletic stance with 60% of your weight toward your front foot. (left for right-handed golfers and right for left-handed golfers.) - This allows a stable stance to eliminate as much unwanted body movement as possible.
First Ball position, half to a full ball back from your normal position (toward your rear foot). - The ball a bit back from normal is to give yourself the best chance of catching the ball first to help not hit the ball fat and possibly leave it in the bunker.
Second Ball Position, a half a ball further away from you. - Moving the ball slightly further away from your body will allow you to swing with more of a sweeping motion instead of a steep swing that can make the ball dig in the sand.
Swing by rotating your upper body while keeping your lower body still through the shot. - By keeping your lower body still will help you limit any lateral movement that may put you out of position for the shot.
Swing with a rhythm. - You do not want to accelerate through the ball with a short backswing and then a fast downswing that may cause you to hit the shot thin. However, you do not want to decelerate your swing and hit the shot fat. Swing with a smooth rhythm and let the club and loft do the work to get the ball out.
Even with these tips, I know how hard it is to hit this 55-yard bunker shot. Give them a try if you end up in this situation and I hope they help you score better.