A Bunker Lesson From Seve

Stan Utley

Stan Utley

SwingU Master Faculty, Golf Digest Top 50 in America

Mr. Lanning was my mentor when I was young, but I didn’t really grow up in an area that had a lot of bunkers, so that wasn’t a focus of ours.

So my real first true bunker lesson came from Tom Pernice. And Tom’s a Missouri guy like me, who ended up going to California to go to school at UCLA. And when he was out there, he got to be friends with Mac O’Grady and Seve. And so much of what I teach, when it comes to hitting bunker shots came directly from Tom who learn from Seve.

You’re two people away from getting a Seve bunker lesson, and here’s what I remember Tom teaching me in about 1983. He said, at address, you stand pretty square, your feet and knees flare out, your club shaft is neutral, it’s not way forward, you got the face barely open, you squat down and get your hands low. You have a little lean left. And then the swing itself is literally just a pick it up and drop it.

So my hands don’t do a lot of swing back and swing through. They pick up and drop from the wrist and the elbow joints. And he called that a narrow swing. You see if I swing my arms, that would be a wide swing. If I pick the club up, it would be a narrow swing.

Now, you ask how do you go back and around? I go back and around with quite a large turn with my body. So I’m turning my knees, my hips and my shoulders the whole time I’m staying to the left. So I’m not rocking my weight to the right. I’m just twisting my weight and trying to keep my head just left to the ball.

So my hands are going to work the club up and down as my body turns, and then at the finish, I always want to stand up tall and face the target and have most of my weight on my left foot.

So I’m gonna lean left, squat down, turn and hinge, let the club fall down and finish tall. That’s the way to hit great bunker shots.