Hardpan Bunker Shots

May 17th, 2018
VIDEO: Transcript

To help you deal with those situations where you are dealing with rockhard bunkers or bunkers that just have a lot of dirt in them and you are just basically playing off hardpan, I’ve got five things that can hopefully help you deal with that.

And so, let’s go over those things. The first is it’s really important to understand some basics about the wedge and what it does, and what the different parts of the wedge will help you do. So, what you are looking at a wedge here, there is a couple parts that are really important to take note in regards to bunkers. So, first, here’s at this point where the clubface comes down to the bottom here, there is this pointy part right here, this is called the leading edge, and it’s kind of sharp like that, and then on the bottom here, there’s this curvy part, this curvy part right here called the bounce, and those, I think have been appropriately called the digger and the skipper, and why those are called that is if you are playing a shot, if you have the shaft a little bit more forward or maybe the ball is back in your stance, and for whatever reason, the shaft is more forward, if you are coming down into the ball, this pointy part here, the leading edge is going to have a propensity to dig into the ground and grab into it, so it requires very precise ball striking to be able to – when you got the shaft forward like that, whereas if you got the shaft a little more vertical or just slightly forward, as it comes into the ground, there’s this bounce, it’s really going to help deflect and prevent the ball or prevent of the club from digging into the ground. So, when you are dealing with situations like this where you got rockhard bunkers are playing from almost bare dirt, you want to – so first, it’s important to understand that because we are going to set up to use that in a way that it’s going to really help with these hardpan situations. So, that’s the first point I want to cover.

The second part is to use – you will probably want to use the wedge with a lesser amount of bounce. If you go from, say a lob wedge to the sand wedge, to the gap wedge, to a pitching wedge, the sand wedge is probably going to have the most amount of bounce on it, so what you go back to our first point there were the bounce helps skip the ball, skip the club and keep it from taking, in this situation where the sand is really hard and it’s like dirt, basically, you probably don’t want to use the sand wedge because it’s going to have – it may lead to the club skipping into the ball and you scull the ball, so you don’t want to do that. So, it’s probably a better idea to pick out a lob wedge; in this particular case, I have a lob wedge here, so you can either use a lob wedge or a gap wedge, or a pitching wedge, and the pitch, gap, and lob will most likely have less bounce in the case of our sterling irons here, they definitely do have less bounce – the sand wedge does have the most bounce. So, if you need a shot that goes a little bit higher, the take out the lob wedge. If you need one that goes a little bit lower, maybe a little bit farther, then maybe grab your gap wedge or pitching wedge. So, that is the second point, is club selection can actually help you better hit these are rockhard bunkers, hardpan type situations. So, that’s the second thing.

The third thing I want to cover is that you may want to have a little bit more shaft lean, and again, going back to our first point there where the more the shaft is leaned a little forward, the more this club can dig into the ground, so with bunker shots – with normal shots, you want to hit the ball first, and then maybe scrape the ground or take a divot. With bunker shots, you actually want to hit the sand first, and the sand that is deflected will effectively spray or kind of lift the ball out of the bunker, so with your hardpan situation here, a little bit more shaft lean when you set up or coming into the ball, not so much set up but more when you are coming into the ball can help the club get down into that hard sand, and help you better play it. So, that’s the third thing.

And then, the fourth thing, similarly, you can leave the shaft forward, you don’t necessarily have to, but you definitely probably – definitely probably, nice phrase there – you probably don’t want to open the clubface. So normally, when it is clear like this, the leading edges straight, and then when you open the clubface to maybe hit a higher shot or we are often taught in bunkers to open the clubface, so that we’re using the bounce more, so in this particular situation, what you are dealing with, again, superhard ground, opening up that clubface to expose of the bounce more is something that’s not really a good idea, generally not really a good idea, and then the last thing I just wanted to say is that with bunker shots, say you have your ball here, you want to hit the sand coming down into the sand, maybe about an inch or 2 inches, maybe three, there is a range where you can get down and hit it and still be okay. So, the closer up to the ball you hit, the more it’s going to fly and spin, and the farther back you hit, the less it’s going to fly and the more it is going to roll. So, either one of those, as long as you’re hitting into a pretty narrow window here are going to end up resulting in about the same distance in the shot. You don’t want to get too far back like maybe four or five, six, seven, 8 inches, you’re just going to hit the dirt. In this case, we are talking about the hardpan, we’re going to hit the hard sand and dirt, and the ball is just going to – you got to get a reasonably close to it, not too close to it roughly an inch to three behind it, and that’s about all I want to say about that.

So, just to recap for these hardpan bunker type situations, understand what the leading edge does, understand what the bounce does, would you pick out a wedge, pick out the one with the least amount of bounce. Our sterling irons, it’s either going to be a lob wedge, a gap wedge, or a pitching wedge. You could even use nine or eight or any other irons. You probably don’t want to use a sand wedge because it has the most bounce. You can’t have a little bit extra shaft lean that will help the club dig into this harder sand, and then you want to keep the clubface more square versus opening it up and exposing the bounce. Again, this all boils down to understanding what the wedge does and how it works and how it interacts with the ground, and then you want to hit roughly 1 to 2, 3 inches behind it and that’s generally a pretty good spot [0:09:18].

So, understand your wedge, use the wedge with the least amount of bounce, have a little bit extra shaft lean, keep the clubface square, don’t open it, and then hit one to 3 inches behind the ball. Try those things when you got those hardpan situations, those rockhard dirt bunkers, and hopefully, you will be getting out those a little bit better.

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