Most players understand they should open the club face at address when playing a bunker shot to help ease the ball up and out on to the green, but many ask how much they should open the face.
There are a number of different factors which should be taken into account when deciding how much to open the club face for a bunker shot.
Club face angle
The first question a golfer should ask themselves is what is the loft of my club? The amount a player should open up a 54 degree wedge and a 62 degree wedge for the same shot will vary enormously. A 54 degree sand wedge would have to be opened by around 45 degrees to achieve a loft of about 62 degrees. If the 62 degree wedge was also opened by 45 degrees the loft would be increased into the 70 degree, possibly 80 degree mark. This is important because the shots produced by using these different clubs with the same swing and set up will produce different results. The lower the loft, the lower the ball flight, the higher the loft, the higher the ball flight.
Distance of the shot
The second thing a player should consider is the distance of the bunker shot about to be played. By using different club lofts, a player can achieve different distances with the same swing but they can also do the same with different set up positions. If a golfer only opens up the club face of their 54 degree sand wedge by a fraction they only have to open their stance by the same amount. This will produce a lower ball flight but also more distance. The nearer the target, the more a player should open the club face.
Many golfers are afraid of opening up the club face when finding themselves in a bunker, it’s an unnatural thing to do outside a bunker with the exception of flop shots. Players unsure or unconfident about opening up the club face should try this drill.
1. Take a sand wedge or lob wedge.
2. Open up the club face so it points straight up at the sky.
3. The golfer should be able to balance a glass of water upon the face or for something closer to hand, players can try to balance a ball on the face instead.
4. Let the ball roll off the face into the bunker but keep the club face open and in the same position.
5. Take the grip keeping the club face open and practice hitting shots entering into the sand a few inches behind the ball.
Many golfers will be amazed at how easy it is to lift the ball out of the sand and on to the green.