It’s almost a rhetorical question, why should golfers use a sand wedge from a greenside bunker?
Although the question seemingly doesn’t require an answer, how many people would be able to give the exact reasons why a sand wedge works better than a 4 iron, a 6 iron, or even a pitching wedge from the sand? To analyze why the sand wedge is good choice for greenside bunker shots we must first understand the club’s design which was inspired by a legendary golfer.
All sand wedges are designed to include various degrees of bounce. Bounce was first introduced by Gene Sarazen in the early 1930’s and helped him roar to success at the 1932 British Open. He altered his most lofted club so the rear edge of the sole was lower than the front. The revolutionary sole design allowed Sarazen to hit down into the sand behind a ball but not dig into the ground. The bounce caused the rear edge of the sole to impact the sand first and helped the club ‘glide’ upwards. Sarazen called the club a ‘sand iron’.
If golfers wish to see the difference a bounce angle can make they should test their sand wedge against other clubs. Most golfers would struggle to shift the ball out of a greenside bunker when using a pitching wedge; this is because a pitching wedge has far less bounce angle as it’s predominantly used off the fairway. Sand wedges often come with bounce angles of about 10 degrees but specialist bounce options are available. Golfers who find they still struggle to lift the ball from greenside bunkers should try a sand wedge with more bounce.
Sand wedges normally have a loft between 54 and 58 degrees. Quite simply, the higher the loft, the higher the ball will go when struck from the centre of the club face.
Loft is an important aspect when selecting a sand wedge for a greenside bunker shot. This is because most greenside bunkers have high lips, meaning the ball is often a long way below the green level. Most experienced golfers understand hitting a full blooded 5 iron will not produce the desired result.
Loft is also something which can be increased or decreased when using the sand wedge. When setting up for a greenside bunker shot, the club face of a sand wedge can be fanned open to increase loft. This will require the golfer to also open their body to ensure alignment is correct.
Shaft length ultimately determines how fast a golfer swings and how much control they have over the club head. Sand wedges are predominantly used for short approach and sand shots. These shots require a greater amount of control rather than pure speed; this is why the sand wedge is one of the shortest clubs in a golfer’s bag.
When a golfer combines these different ingredients, they have a club which glides through sand because of bounce angle, hits the ball high because of loft, and is controllable because of shaft length.
This is the answer to why golfers should use a sand wedge from a greenside bunker when compared to longer clubs with less loft and bounce.