Reaching for the sand wedge when hitting from bunkers might not always be the best option.
There are occasions when the sand wedge should be left in the bag and other weapons should be selected.
Fairway bunker shots
Many golfers feel they need to hit a sand wedge from fairway bunkers to be safe and get the ball back into play. But the best golfers know how to alter their set up and clubs to achieve their goals. When playing out of fairway bunkers, players can use this technique to help hit clubs with lower lofts and attack pins.
1. Grip the club more tightly with the back two fingers of the left hand (for right handed golfers). This will stop the club face rolling shut at impact. Players should also hold the club a little further down the grip; this will help pick the ball clean off the sand. The golfer needs to hit the ball first.
2. Players should shuffle their feet into the sand to avoid slipping.
3. Golfers should play the ball further back in the stance to ensure a clean contact, this will give a lower ball flight.
4. The swing goal should be to nip the ball from the surface. Golfers need to ensure no sand is caught between the club and ball; this could dramatically reduce distance achievable.
Long greenside bunker shots
Longer greenside bunker shots can be tackled by golfers using a solid technique, different lofts and different swings. The technique below adapts a normal bunker set up and swing to hit the ball further.
1. Rather than holding the club face open, grip as normal.
2. Place the grip high on the handle to aid acceleration through the ball.
3. Place the ball in the middle of the stance and move the body weight slightly forward on to the front foot which will help the golfer drive through the sand.
4. Hinge the wrists upwards and swing quickly through the sand entering an inch behind the ball.
5. By not opening the club face, the ball will come out a little lower but with more distance and backspin.
On these longer greenside bunker shots, different clubs can be experimented with. Rather than a sand wedge, players can use a gap wedge or pitching wedge. These clubs have less bounce and less loft meaning they will take off from the sand on a lower trajectory, they will ,however, go further meaning the golfer won’t have to hit the ball so hard.
Under the lip lob wedge shots
Sometimes an approach shot into a green gets lodged underneath the lip of a bunker. This can be one of the most difficult shots to master. The first thing players must do is judge if the shot is playable at all, or if the safer course of action would be to play out sideways. However, if the golfer possesses a lob wedge, the extra loft could help get the ball up and on to the green. Players can use the following technique if stuck underneath the lip of a bunker.
1. Open the blade of the lob wedge until the club face is almost pointing at the sky. This will increase the amount of loft on the club.
2. After opening up the club face, take a grip on the club.
3. Open up the body so it points left of the target (for a right handed golfer) but keep the club face open and pointing right of the target. This will keep the club face open through impact and increase the height of the ball.
4. Shuffle the feet deep into the sand. This will reduce the golfers overall height so they should hold the club further down the shaft.
5. Place the ball just forward of centre in the stance and hinge the wrists quickly during the backswing. This will help slide the club quickly under the ball.
6. It’s important to keep up acceleration though the ball. The added speed and open club face will get the ball up very quickly.
So when faced with different lengths and lies in bunkers, golfers don’t need to automatically reach for the sand wedge, they should experiment with different techniques and clubs to find the correct method.