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Bunker Play

1.                    The term “splash” rather than “explosion” is a word which may better describe the preferred swing action when the ball is sitting up on top of the sand.  “Dig” is a descriptive word for the swing when the ball is buried.


2.                    Good results from a bunker, like good results on the putting green, depend greatly upon the ability of the player to “read the sand,” like “reading the green.”  The only means within the rules that the player has for reading the sand are his eyes and feet.  The feet are the “feelers.”  Walking on the ball and taking a stance will provide information on sad depth.  Sand depth and condition can also be partially determined visually.  If the sand is coarse or wet that means it is firmer and will cause more bounce; fluffy and dry sand will cause the club to dig more.  Therefore, for firm lies use less bounce from the sole; for soft lies use more bounce.


3.                    Vary the depth of cut by setting the club’s grip-end forward for a deep cut or back for a shallow cut.


4.                    Chipping from and is difficult and is not widely taught.  Players who do execute this shot play the ball back in the stance and try to keep the swing level and wrists firm.


5.                    In the following-through for a bunker swing the player can either hold the arm rotation or release it depending on his set-up.  The more open the face in the backswing, the greater the arm and hand release.  If the fact is square the tendency will be to hold or just “body release.”


6.                    Some of the factors determining the type of shot to be played are:  Lie, distance to the flag, sand composition and condition, slope and speed of the green, height of the bunker lip type of bunker club that is being used.


7.                    A visual image to help the player from closing the face prematurely is to picture balancing a glass of water on the clubface, without spilling it, until well into the follow-through.


8.                    Uneven lies in the bunker are played like those from grass using similar adjustments.  For example, align the shoulders parallel to the slope of the ground for uphill or downhill lies.  An exception to this is when the slope is severe, i.e., having the ball plugged in the face of an uphill bunker where a paralled-to-the-slope shoulder position would cause the player to fall over.  In this case lean into the hill and hit closer to the ball than in a normal sand shot.  The vertical bank will still allow plenty of sand between the clubface and ball.


9.                    A player should learn how far he can hit a sand wedge from a bunker under different sand conditions so that he’ll know when the target is out of range and a different club is needed.


10.                 Fear produces tension, which in turn destroys swing motion.  The bunker shot is a natural for causing this psychological reaction, particularly in players who have experienced only occasional success in escaping from a bunker.  What is the effect on technique when players execute this shot in a fearful state?  They release prematurely, trying to scoop the ball up and catch the sand too far behind the ball with a shallow approach.  The clubhead is then allowed to pass their hands too early in the forward swing, resulting in a bladed shot.  Or they tighten and decelerate, causing the club to lose its impact force, leaving the ball in the bunker.  Eliminating fear will improve results.  Confidence will destroy fear.  Confidence comes from knowing what one is doing.


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