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Winter Bunker Blues

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Have you got the ‘Winter Bunker Blues’?

The weather at this time of year is challenging for golfers and greenkeepers alike. The bunkers can be raked perfectly by 8am, get hit by a downpour and then you arrive in one at 9am faced with the task of getting the ball ‘up & out’ from the wet, flat, hard sand. Most golfers are already beaten when they see this situation but when you apply a little logic to the situation they don’t seem quite so daunting.

A bit of ‘Butter Logic’!

Imagine two blocks of butter; one is very soft (a summer condition bunker with soft sand) the other is fresh out of the fridge and is hard (a winter bunker with hard sand). Now imagine you have a spoon and a knife available to you. These two utensils are very different in design, one has a curved bottom (the bounce on your Sand Wedge), and the other has a sharp edge (the lack of bounce on your Lob Wedge).

Now try using the spoon to scoop a layer of butter off the top of the hard block (without turning the edge into the butter), it’s impossible as the leading edge of the spoon isn’t making contact with the butter. This is a pretty good comparison of how hard it is for an open-faced Sand Wedge to get into the sand and under the ball. Now grab the knife, the sharp edge should at least take a small layer of butter off the top. With the knife still in hand, turn the leading edge of the knife down towards the butter and chop down hard, you can remove more butter.

Hopefully the logic above will now help you understand why it’s better to use a Lob Wedge when you need loft from a hard sand, bunker lie. Squaring the clubface on a Lob Wedge will help you cut into the sand whilst maintaining a decent amount of loft to gain any height needed.

Now you just need to learn how to play it!

  1. Use your Lob Wedge 58°/60°/62°/64° ideally with low bounce 4°/6°/8
  2. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t always aim straight for the flag, especially if there’s trouble behind the flag. Even with the knowledge these shots are tricky so allow for mistakes by playing for the big part of the green or an area where there’s a safe run off.
  3. Square the clubface. Opening the clubface (as with normal soft sand conditions) will only create more bounce and as the ‘butter comparison’ explains. This will only increase the chances of the club bouncing into the ball.
  4. Firm your grip as the ‘chopping’ action will require a firm grip to control the clubface.
  5. Place the ball just forwards of centre in your stance with your hands just ahead of the ball.
  6. Your body weight should favour your front foot 60/40.
  7. Focus your eyes on a point 2/3 inches behind the ball. This strike point in the sand should be the middle of your stance.
  8. Your backswing should be steep to create the ‘chopping’ action down into the sand.
  10. Your follow through will be stunted/shorter because of the steeper, chopping action into the sand.

Good luck and get practising; you’ll soon be free of the ‘winter bunker blues’. If you need any advice on lob wedges then please feel free to pop in and speak to one of the professional staff.