Beach or Bunker and the Wedge

Beach or Bunker and the Wedge

Big_sand_trap_1 Thailand golf courses are generally laid out on flat terrain as most of the resorts and courses are located close to the sea. To compensate for the lack of elevation change, the famous course designers here have resorted to heavy use of sand traps, both in the fairways and also guarding the greens. Therefore, I thought I would cover here a topic that has helped me tremendously excel at this aspect of play in Thailand.

No that is not me at the left, but if you look close you can see another ball in the trap, that was mine!

There are many tips on bunker play all of which seem to repeat themselves. However, being an engineer I like to understand the "why" of everything I learn. Therefore, this brief history of the modern day sand wedge design goes a long way to understanding design principles and makes the sand play tips that I reed that much easier to implement. Let me know what you think.

Sand_wedge_2 Invented by Gene Sarazen in the 1930s, the sand wedge is the only club designed specifically to hit out of soft sand.

Sarazen filed away the leading edge of his pitching wedge, which he felt encouraged the club head to dig too deeply into the sand. Experimenting with this new design, he discovered that when the club entered the dirt, it created a splash affect, forcing the ball up and out.

Sarazen’s design change affects the way you hit a bunker shot. Below are 3 tips to keep in mind when hitting from a bunker:

  1. Open the stance
  2. Aim right of stance
  3. Dig a solid foundation

Open the clubface and then grip the club. This approach ensures that the clubface stays open throughout the swing. In addition, open your stance by pointing your feet, hips, and shoulders left of the target line, all while aiming the clubface right of your stance, placing it in line with the target. These two opposing principals work together to throw the ball out of the bunker.

Finally, dig your feet into the sand, establishing a solid foundation and preventing slippage in mid-swing. Doing this also tells you how the club will react when it enters the sand.

Thanks to the open stance, the swing follows an out to in path. When combined with the open clubface, it produces a straight shot, with a soft, high trajectory–exactly what you want when hitting from a bunker.

Sounds complicated, well actually it is a little simpler once you understand the club design. Give these tips a try and you too will find more consistency in your sand shots, a must for anyone playing in Thailand!

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2 Responses

  1. In wet bunkers, or when the sand is hard packed, you are better to take a club with less rounded bottom, such as your pitching or gap wedge. Square the club face up more and create a steep angle of attack, this will ensure you get the same splash effect.

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