Simulate the lies you’ll face in a practice bunker
By Alex Riggs
If every bunker were exactly the same, mastering the green side escape would be a cinch. Unfortunately this is not the case in the real world. To provide you with an effective strategy to cope with any potential lie, here’s my tips to deal with three general sand textures.
1) Perfect sand, a bit like Goldilocks’ favourite bed, is not too firm, nor too soft and generally allows you to be more precise with your escape. In your set up, ensure your stance line is slightly open to the target with the ball lined up just inside your left heel. The pressure in your feet will be about 60% on your left side and you’ll feel more of a squat than your traditional wedge shot set-up. Your hands should be in the middle of your body, lower than normal, with the club face in an open position. Hinge our wrists more than in regular shots as it helps add speed from the hands as well as adding loft. The primary difference between bunker shots and regular shots is that extension in your lead wrist, or what some refer to as cupping. The extension of the wrist helps to keep the face of the wedge open through impact, adding loft to give the ball a higher launch out of the sand. Keep pressure in your left side through the swing and accelerate through the sand.
2) In really soft sand, we are going to alter three variables. First, open the club face more than you would from a standard lie. By doing this, the club will not dig too deep into the sand. Second, make a wider swing arc; think of taking the club back lower to the ground and making the biggest arc possible. This also ensures we don’t go too deep into the soft sand. Lastly, swing with more speed than normal for the given distance. The standard miss from soft sand is short, so use more speed than you think you need.
3) In firm sand, we are going to make the opposite changes. The club face will be less open than the perfect sand conditions. We want to use less bounce here – you actually want the club to dig more to help get under the ball. Secondly, the swing arc will be narrower. Think of chopping wood for getting it out of firm sand. You want a sharp angle of attack to help get under the ball. Lastly, reduce your swing speed here. There is a more direct transfer of energy when hitting from firm sand, so use a swing that is softer than a shot from perfect sand.