I am always amazed that human beings love to go the beach so much; yet have such an aversion to going anywhere near sand, when they are on a golf course!
I have actually watched golfers seize up after hitting a shot into a bunker, knowing that they will have to play their next shot from there. Tip # 1. The sand is your friend! If you need to capture images of being a child again and building sand castles, then so be it.
The single most common, mechanical flaw that amateurs have, is that the DE-cellerate when hitting a bunker shot. One must approach bunker play KNOWING that the ball is coming out rather than “wishing” it so. Make a committed; SWING of the club.
The second most common affliction that golfers have is that they are loath to open the club-face enough. Great bunker players carve their club-head through the sand as opposed to letting the club-face, “dig”. If your club-face is too square (for normal shots, a good thing) it will dig as it enters the sand (thereby creating, flaw #1). The more open the club-face, the easier it is to carve the club through the sand (face meets with less resistance).
For most (until becoming very advanced) golfers, you want to ALWAYS have a full backswing. Don’t worry, the ball is not going very far (because your clubface is open); but it is imperative to take a full backswing (not a short jerky motion) and aim for a point in the sand about 2 inches behind the ball. An important note, when opening your clubface is to open the club first to the desired angle, and THEN put our grip on as you would normally.
Practice sand shots……..without a ball. Do the above things but start by SPLASHING shots, without ball. This will allow you to get the feel of a correct motion and sound (cognizant re-inforcement) of the club carving the sand (for some reason, once that silly little white sphere becomes involved with things, we begin to capitulate). And think of the word; SPLASH (more good childhood memories of the beach!), when you play a bunker shot. The notion of: ‘SPLASHING” the club, induces you to do all of the above.