|Defeating the Bunker Bounce|
Why you have a hard time in the bunker!
by: Dale Abraham, PGA Professional, Desert Mountain
There are a few things that all good bunker players do: consistently and accurately read the lie in the sand, consistently judge the firmness of the sand, control the depth the club goes into the sand, and control the speed of the club.
We are going to talk about your ability to control the depth that the club goes into the sand. It is my belief that the vast majority of amateur golfers fail in this crucial aspect of successful bunker play.
First, let me state that for all greenside bunker shots, we want to hit down into the sand. The depth the clubhead goes into the sand can be controlled by our setup. It is much too difficult and leads to inconsistencies if you try to change your swing on each shot. Here is what I recommend, learn to use the bounce of the club correctly and not only will you get out each time, but you can start to put it close to the hole!
Bounce is defined as the measurement in degrees of the angle from the front edge of a club’s sole to the point that actually rests on the ground at address. The rear edge of many soles is lower or closer to the ground than the front edge. That relationship of the front and back of the sole creates an angled surface on the bottom of the club, which resists the clubhead digging into sand or digging into grass.
The more bounce a club has, the less the club will dig and the more it will skid or “bounce” off the surface of the sand. This is desirable when we have soft conditions or when we have a good lie. Bounce is less desirable when we have very hard sand or bad lies.
How much bounce should you have on your wedges? In general, I recommend having a sand wedge with 14º of bounce and a lob wedge with 7º or 8º of bounce. Why this combination? This combination of bounce allows you to handle all of the types of shots that you will need here at Desert Mountain. As you can see in the pictures, I prefer the Titleist Vokey Design wedges, the sand wedge with 54 of loft and 14º of bounce and the lob wedge with 60º of loft and 7º of bounce. I think these are the best wedges on the market and have played with this particular model for the last 5 years.
Do you know that you can adjust the amount of bounce you use on a particular shot? You can do this in two ways: Clubface position and shaft angle
Let’s go over clubface position first. The more you open the clubface, the more you create bounce. In essence, opening the clubface raises the leading edge and lowers the trailing edge, thus helping to create less dig and more bounce. The opposite is also true. The more you close the clubface, the lower the leading edge gets and more dig is created.
Second option is the shaft angle. The more we angle the shaft away from the target, where the grip end is trailing the clubhead, the more bounce we expose on our wedge. The opposite is also true. The more we lean the shaft toward the target, the less bounce we expose and the more the club will dig.
This is where reading the sand conditions and lie of the ball is so important. These two factors help you decide if you want the club to dig into or bounce through the sand. If you want to bounce through the sand, set up as follows: Play the ball toward the front of your stance opposite your front foot with your weight fairly evenly distributed between your feet.
Open the clubface about 20 degrees, aim your feet very slightly to the left (for a right handed golfer) – be careful not to overdo this step, most amateurs aim too far to the left causing an outside-in swing path. Make a normal, ¾ length backswing and then hit the sand two inches behind the ball.
Use the length of your follow through to determine the length of the shot. A short follow through will cut off your acceleration and cause a short shot while a longer follow through will give you more acceleration and give you a longer shot.
If you want the club to dig the ball out of a buried or bad lie or if the ball is sitting on hard packed sand, set up as follows:
• Play the ball back in your stance with your weight favoring your front foot and your feet slightly closer together than normal. Keep the clubface square or even slightly closed.
• Make a normal ¾ length backswing and then hit down into the sand two inches behind the ball.
• Plan for extra roll as the ball will come out lower and roll more than if it was in a good lie.