Bunker Play Basics – How to Develop Your Stock Sand Shot (Ep.14)

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Assess the Lie & Manage the Dig vs. Slide

This episode is all about bunker play. In basic terms, we handle bunker shots a lot like pitch shots, but there are a few important variables we’ll need to learn to account for.

First, everything is determined by the lie. Learning to assess what you’re capable of from different lies comes with practice and simple trial and error.

If the ball is sitting down, we need the club to dig into the sand. If we’ve got a good lie, we’ll want the club to slide into the sand.

Digging: We need the club to do more digging when the ball is sitting down.
Sliding: We need the club to avoid digging when we’re in soft sand.

Bounce angle is part of the anatomy of a sand wedge where the leading edge of the club is raised off the ground. We can moderate bounce by opening or closing the face.

Open Club Face: More bounce, less digging, soft sand, good lies.
Square Club Face: Less bounce, more digging, hard sand, poor lies

I like the comparison of a peeler taking the skin off of a carrot – we don’t want the club to dig so much that it stops dead. Conversely, we also don’t want the club bouncing off the sand, or the peeler failing to grab any skin at all.

My bunker line drill is a great way to practice and learn about how consistent you are with impacting the sand (or turf).

Calibrating your sand shots – Practicing by setting up square to a target, opening the club face, and hitting a few shots will reveal how far to the right the ball tends to come out. Transposing that angle to the other side…meaning aiming that much to the left will mean the ball comes out at the flag.