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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Quick Sand Tip

Today I'm just posting a quick tip I heard over the weekend that might help you if you're having trouble getting out of the sand.

If you're playing out of hard sand, you need to swing easier. The club won't skim under the surface as easily if you swing hard; in all likelihood, you'll just bounce off the surface and blade the ball over the green.

If you're playing out of soft sand, you need to swing faster. This is just the opposite of hard sand -- your wedge is going to slide under the sand easily, so you're going to end up moving a lot of sand. Swinging too slow will prevent you from generating enough clubhead speed to get out.

And one more thing if you're playing after a rain: You can have both kinds of sand in the same bunker -- wet sand plays harder, dry sand plays softer. Adjust your swing accordingly.

Hope this helps.


  1. Hmm - pretty sure I don't agree with this one. Hard sand tends to make the club bounce, and it is more difficult to get under the ball, so it requires a pretty fair amount of clubhead speed to make sure you get under the ball.

    Soft sand is a tougher shot - to me - since you have to control the depth of the swing to avoid going underneath the ball and either leaving it in the bunker or not getting it to the target.

    Personally, I take different wedges depending on the course I'm playing, or the weather conditions. If it's been raining, I take wedges with very little bounce, since I know the sand will be firm and compacted. If it is dry, and I know the course has fluffy sand, I bring a sand wedge with lot of bounce.

    Most courses I play aren't PGA Tour standard courses, so the bunkers are rarely consistent, so I take a 60* wedge with just a little bounce and a 54* wedge with more bounce depending on the shot...but both bunker shots require accelleration under the ball to get it out.

    I always like Gary Player's description - it's like striking a match. You have to accelerate through the sand to get it out and (more or less) to the right place. It's more important to control the depth of the swing and finish the swing, and adjust the feel of your speed for the distance or type of shot you want. (high and soft or low and running)(then smack Johnny Miller for infecting broadcasters with his "chunk-n-run" line) :-)

  2. I'm not sure who I got this from -- I watched so much golf over the weekend, flipping from channel to channel because of rain delays and playoffs, that I'm not even sure which tournament I was watching when I heard it.

    When I heard the part about the hard sand, I just assumed they were playing it much more like a chip shot and hitting very close to the ball. I've always had trouble with the very soft stuff; I've done best there when I went to a 9-iron and opened the face way open.

    I've come to the conclusion that there are several different schools of thought concerning sand play... and they don't agree. Maybe you put your finger on why we weekend players have more trouble than Tour players -- unlike Tour courses, there is no "standard" for traps in the real world.

  3. I assumed the same thing as Mike, i.e. if the sand is hard enough that your club won't enter the sand, the last thing you'll want to do is swing hard, as you'll end up blading the ball about 80 yards.

    When I have a hard-pan lie like this, I concentrate on making a smooth transition at the top and not releasing my wrists too early. This helps me ensure good crisp contact, rather than hitting a little fat and blading it.

    Jim Dauer

  4. Thanks, Court & Jim! Has anybody else found some "sand advice" that worked for them... or didn't?

    And Court mentioned Johnny Miller, which reminded me: I can tell you for sure that the "stab & cuss" shot has never worked for me. ;-)

  5. I'll have to give the 9-iron out of the fluffy sand idea a try next time. Something with a bigger flange than most of my wedges.

    Just "thump" that firm sand. That's my favorite sand condition.

  6. I think the reason it works is because the entire back of the 9-iron acts like one big flat flange. It just refuses to dig down too deep.