Sand...my worst enemy

The past couple rounds i have played and found my self in a few deep bunkers and havent been able to get up in down from them. i keep practicing but i cant seem to get the ball in the air fast enough to land softly. i have spin milled wedges 54-58 and dont know which one i should use. any tips are greatly appreciated. thanks

I consider myself a reasonably good bunker player, and my first rule of thumb is get on the green. After that, it depends on the lie, and how close I am to the hole. For example, I was in one today, which was close to the end of the bunker, and I had an uphill lie. I hate the long bunker shots where I have to carry several yards over sand, but this one wasn't. Hence, I felt I could be aggressive, used my 60* and I hit it to 20 inches, and made par. If I had been further back, I would have used my 56*, and my focus would be to get on the green, and maybe make par, but nothing worse than bogey. For longer bunker shots, I will use my 52* or 48*, where getting out is not as worrisome, but I want the ball to run when it gets on the green.

Hope this helps. 

First off,(if you do not already) Open up and Widen your stance.  Keep your body weight tilted slightly forward.  Then lay the club near 90 degrees, either 54-58 depending on condition.   Be sure you are accelerating through the swing.  Hit behind the ball +-1" with a decent dig into the sand.  The ball should pop up better and land softer.  It also a feeling of being most in control, imho.

These tips will at least get you out of bunkers on a more consistent basis with a softer touch & more bite.  Sand is all touch & feel once you understand the conditions at hand.   Too many players try to get cute instead of first understanding the basics of proper bunker play.

Do you have a 60? I play my 60 Vokey out of the sand in all steep shots. If it's not a long shot, I choke way up, open it way up play the ball more slightly forward of center and stop my finish once I hear the thud. Checks up every time. What ball are you using?  

Nicklaus,

I have become pretty good out of the bunker (around 83%), however, the only club I use is my Sand Wedge.  The bottom of the club is a little more rounded helping me NOT to go too deep in the sand (if I am buried, I sometimes use a PW to help dig in).  I use the same stance as I do when not in the bunker, but I take a full swing, the only difference to determine distance is how hard I swing, and how much sand I take with the swing.  A bunker shot is more of a finesse shot, so arms are probably the prominent force.

If I am close to the lip of the bunker I might open the club face a little, but I find the normal club face angle will lift enough to get out of most green side bunkers.

Keep your head down,

Paul

Hi Nick,

There's a lot of good advice on here.  Open and widen your stance, and open that club face way up-  That's the key.

I would suggest practicing with different clubs.  For the dreaded 50 yard bunker shot, I've opened up a P or a 9 and played it just like a green side shot with some success.  Finding what works for you is key.

Who knows, maybe the 50 yard bunker will be the next "Tip from the Tour" -hint hint Mike

YouTube G Playr, Lee T and J Thrp and you'll be  sticking it close!

Like Donald master class videos go really in depth with these shots easy to find on YouTube.

Brandon R
Like Donald master class videos go really in depth with these shots easy to find on YouTube.

I've watched a few of those videos.  Very informative and worth watching.

Honestly, you need to have fun with it. Until I started to have fun practicing my sand shots, they were always boring and usually bad. And the club choice is completely up to you, I used to use a 56 but now I favor my 52 more often. You also don't have to worry about getting the ball high because if you hit a good sand shot the ball will usually spin anyway. Also, you cannot approach a sand bunker with bad thoughts. You have to be ready to take on the challenge and embrace the opportunity to hit a great shot. This is what really helped my game out of bunkers.   

Brandon
Like Donald master class videos go really in depth with these shots easy to find on YouTube.

I had been struggling last month with getting out of sand as well. Then I re-watched his bunker shot video and I realized I had too much of a forward shaft lean like my regular chip shot. It must have done the trick, the since I was able to make a few sand saves this last weekend.

The first on hole 6 got me to about 4'. "I might know what I'm doing!", I said surprised. And on hole 7 I lipped out to 6". Before teeing off at 8 my partners were asking if I was going to aim for one of the par 3's bunkers. I didn't mean to but that's where it went. Three for three? I got lucky with a ~10' long ~2' foot breaking put. The bunker shot out was a downhill lie and above the hole so it rolled out quite a bit. 

At 10 there was essentially out of bounds right and a huge bunker taking up half of the fairway on the left usually forcing a layup. Nope, bunker. We were all laughing, and one partner said, "I've never seen anyone so happy to be in a bunker before."  I got luck on this one too, as I thinned it out of there and caught the lip. Ironically that launched it a little higher and a little slower for the ball to just trickle onto the green in 2 put range. One partner was just dying with laughter at this point.

So yeah, I'd say that video was pretty helpful.

Nicklaus B

The past couple rounds i have played and found my self in a few deep bunkers and havent been able to get up in down from them. i keep practicing but i cant seem to get the ball in the air fast enough to land softly. i have spin milled wedges 54-58 and dont know which one i should use. any tips are greatly appreciated. thanks

My wedge setup is SM4 48-06, 54-11 (1* strong), 58-06, 64-07.  I use the 54 primarily from soft sand.  The 58 is from firm or wet sand; although I can use it in soft sand.  I use the 64 for deep bunkers where there is little green.  I use the 48 for long shots. 

I'm a reasonable bunker player. 

Open the blade. 

The biggest thing to avoid is coming over the top and that is why the ball may fly so low or left. Most of your weight should be on your front foot.  There is a nifty drill you can try.....   put the ball on a dollar bill and try to go under without digging.  

That dollar bill drill was shown to me by an older gentleman a few years ago.  I've gotten out of rather large deep bunkers with the 64 but you almost have to pick it clean. 

Basically open the clubface toward the pin, weight just about all on the front foot, ball forward (almost near your front foot). You swing along your foot path and hit about 2" behind the ball. 

Avoid coming over the top on the downswing and hit through the ball.  Don't try to help it up.

 

All of the above tips are good but one key move you need to make when playing out of the green side bunker. Address ball with a wide stance, club face wide open then take your grip, weight forward and keep it there through out the swing and this is the key move, HINGE your wrist immediately and you do not have to be fast on your back swing and then keep your hinge as you hit the sand behind the ball and keep your club head moving. You cannot hit the sand and stop the swing and expect the ball to get out. There are exceptions to the above, with the ball resting on an up slope in the bunker you have to keep your weight on your back foot through out the swing. On a plugged lie in the face of a bunker you will have to keep your wedge in a normal to slightly open position and slam your club face into the sand with no intention of a follow through to get it out. Bottom line, spend a lot of time practicing green side bunker play.

Take those wedges and hit the practice bunker.

Don't leave till your hands are blistered and the sand is your friend.

IMHO most casual players don't pay enough attention to practicing these shots.

Mastering the sand will knock a few strokes off your scores...you will soon see the sand as a strategic play rather than a hazard.

Everybody Likes going to the Beach!

Dr. K