Bunker Shots Exceptions for Open Club Face

In this article, let's look at few exceptions to the rule of holding the clubface wide open on your bunker shots. In this last section, we are going to talk briefly about a few situations where you would not want to use a wide open club face. The list below highlights occasions where it will be best to handle the bunker shot with less loft.

  • Firm surface. When the surface of the bunker is hard-packed, which often happens after rain, the ball may be siting completely on top of the sand just as if it was on the grass. In this case, an explosion shot may be out of the question because you might not be able to get under the ball successfully. Therefore, the better option may be to simply chip or pitch the ball like you would on the fairway. With this option, you’ll just try to pick the ball cleanly, avoiding the sand with your club as much as possible. This is not an easy shot to pull off, for a couple of reasons. First, you will have to make perfect contact to be successful, as even a slight miss-hit is going to cause the ball to come up short. Also, it may be difficult to get the ball up high enough to clear the lip of the bunker in front of you.
  • An extra-long bunker shot. If you are facing a bunker shot in the range of 30 – 50 yards, playing the shot with the face wide open really isn’t a viable option. You won’t be able to hit the ball far enough using a high degree of loft, so you’ll want to keep the club closer to a square position. This is always going to be a hard shot, even with the proper amount of loft in use. Due to the difficulty of this shot, it is a good idea to take a safe line of play, just in case you aren’t’ able to carry the ball all the way to the target.
  • Buried lie. Sometimes, you are going to experience bad luck with regard to the kind of lie you draw in a bunker. If the ball comes in on a high trajectory, and the sand is particularly soft, it is likely to plug right where it lands. That means at least some of the ball will be buried beneath the top of the sand, and you will have a hard time getting your club down low enough to dig the ball out. When this happens, keep your sand wedge in a square position and swing in on a steep plane to carve the ball out of the sand and (hopefully) out of the bunker. This is another difficult shot, and you shouldn’t expect much in the way of accurate results. In fact, just getting the ball out of the sand in this kind of situation should be considered a win.

There is no reason to live in fear of bunker shots as a golfer. It’s never great news to see your ball land in the sand, but that doesn’t mean you should just throw up your hands and give in. Prepare yourself with proper fundamentals for bunker shots and you will have a good chance to be successful in this situation. By getting comfortable hitting these kinds of shots with the face wide open, it will become possible to hit high and soft explosion shots – and hopefully, those shots will come down right next to the cup. Good luck!