Hunker Down

Have you ever been told to hunker down and get ready? Ever wonder what that means? The word hunker has been traced back to German and Dutch origins, meaning to squat, get low and bend the knees. Today, the expression means that and a few things more, including to settle in or to hold resolutely.

Get Wide

Too Narrow

Get Low

Too Tall

On the golf course, there’s no better place to hunker down than in the bunker. Too often, I see players standing tall and narrow over the ball, not realizing that one of the fundamentals to better bunker play is to get low at the setup and stay low through the finish. See how my stance is widened and my hands are ready over the ball? This aggressive position is far more stable than the inset photo, where I’m likely to lose my footing in the sand.

Another way to hunker down is to add more flex in the knees. You want as much stability as possible, and a quick way to do that (without having to dig your feet deep into the sand) is to combine a wide stance with flexed knees and a forward-leaning spine angle.

Finally, to really hunker down in the bunker, think aggressively! Get into a solid athletic position and go after that golf ball. Any hesitation in the sand will lead to bad shots, so it’s almost always better to err on the side of hitting the ball too hard than too softly (unless, of course, there’s a hazard on the other side of the green). Remember that the harder you hit the ball out of the sand, the more spin you’ll impart on it. So even if you hit it a little past the hole, the ball is likely to have more backspin and check up on you. As for short, weak and tentative bunker shots? Hey, it’s likely you’ll be hunkering down for another bunker shot–this time still in the sand and up against the lip.

Stay low, stay wide, get aggressive, and hunker down in the sand!

Karen Nannen, PGA, is the director of instruction at Desert Highlands Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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