(Photo by Masam Ali)
By Alex Riggs
The long bunker shot is widely regarded as one of the trickiest in golf but amateurs across the Middle East know an even thornier challenge – the escape from a desert lie. Chance are you’ll be familiar with the scenario; your ball bounds off into a gnarly lie carved out by mother nature or, worse still, one created by the last unfortunate soul to go off-piste. If you’re lucky, the lie won’t be too bad but almost inevitably, your un-cooperative sphere will nestle down into a rut or one of the deep trail of size 11 footprints that dot most holes in our sandy part of the golfing world. For most amateurs, the resulting escape attempt ends in a frustrating, blur of sand and dropped shots. But this needn’t be the case.
SIZE UP THE SAND
One key for successfully executing a desert sand shot is to first gain an understanding of the texture of the sand. Typically, the desert sand we encounter in the Middle East is extremely soft and powdery, necessitating an approach to the shot slightly different to that of a typical greenside bunker shot. The soft sand means the club will be prone to digging and consequently dramatically reducing clubhead speed just before contact. For this reason, it is very important to concentrate on the following steps:
1. Play one wedge stronger than what you would typically play for the required distance. For example, if it’s a 60-degree distance, play a 56-degree.
2. Open the wedge significantly to increase the effective bounce and prevent the wedge from getting too deep in the sand.
3. Swing with double the power you think you need. This is vitally important because the typical miss is short from desert sand. Don’t be shy with your speed. Blast through it!
Desert sand is not nearly as daunting as some make it out to be. Make sure to take the sand texture into consideration and when it’s soft, as it often is, follow the steps above to shave shots from your score. – with Kent Gray
Alex Riggs is a Canadian born golf coach who specialises in finding simple and effective strategies to lower scores. He is a Brand Ambassador for PXG and Under Armour. For lesson enquiries, contact Alex via [email protected] or +971 55 497 7913