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Undoubtedly one part of the game that we practice the least, contributing to struggle the majority of amatuers experience - myself included.  I'm usually able to get out in one swat, but both distance and accuracy are highly variable 🫣.  Add to that the difference in sprinkler wetted/compact vs. dry fluffy conditions (I experienced both yesterday in men's league play), and the challenge gets harder.  

Fortunately, three of our courses have practice areas with sand traps.  This is now moved to my #1 area for improvement.  I'd like to hear from those of you who have made this part of your game an area of focus/improvement, and how you went about it.  Did you take lessons?  Did you find some on-line DIY instructional sources?

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Lessons and use the bounce both version 1 and 2 from Monte 

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6 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

Lessons and use the bounce both version 1 and 2 from Monte 

^^^  Bill, I second this!!  If you don't have the videos, be on the lookout for special deals for the holidays.  He usually has $20 specials.

I had a couple of lessons that never worked for me.  I played for 20 years two courses in town that didn't have any bunkers, then I moved to Columbia Point.  You've played here; we have a lot of sand!  I have all of Monte's videos and the Use The Bounce videos solved my problems around the greens.  I now have about 50% sandy saves and have even had a hole-out!  His technique is a little different than what is usually taught; made sense to me, and I picked it up rather quickly since he basically says to use the same iron swing as other shots.  At the last Monte clinic I attended, when it was my turn in the sand, I popped the ball out and Monte told the others... do it like that.  I used to fear bunkers, but I will now risk firing at certain pins close to a bunker because playing a "safe shot" to the middle of the green could result in an easy 3-putt.

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I personally love sand shots and don't fear them at all.  FW traps or greenside I have confidence.  We don't have any practice bunkers at my course now but when I worked at a course I would go out to different holes and just practice different shots out of them. 

My current course has about 6 different types of sand and thicknesses so I had to learn the different shots needed.

I'm prob not the best for advice in this area. For me it was repetition, and my approach is more the open body/club face around GS bunkers.  I know where my ball is going and have built a feel for it. 

 

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Over the years, countless hours spent in practice bunkers have helped me refine the technique, but it all traces back to a tip I got from an old timer when I was a kid, that has stuck with me over the years. It amounts to swinging the hosel at the ball while completing a normal swing. Which is basically opening the face and allowing it to hit just behind the ball. Done properly, it pops the ball out of the bunker every time. As I’ve gotten older and experienced different conditions and lies, the technique has been adapted to suit each case individually but the bones of that tip are still there, all these years later. I’ve become quite adept at getting out of bunkers, so I owe that anonymous old timer a debt of gratitude and on Thanksgiving, it is kind strangers such as himself that I am grateful for.

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Key thought: high hands... or following through to head height regardless of backswing length so you don't decelerate. 

Read the book by James Sieckmann: Your Short Game Solution

Great technique in here on sand shots, I often re-read at the beginning of season as a reminder. Lots of great stuff on any aspect of golf with a wedge in your hand. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Like anything in life you need to practice sand shots, it is at the simplest opening the face and hitting behind the ball.  The more light sand the harder the swing.  To get high and low shots practice them.  One story, from Colorado where wind takes sand out of traps to visit New Orleans.  On first hole, hit into trap, swung, covered myself with super fluffy sand.  Was able to go back into the clubhouse and with towel cleaned up and started round again, lucky course was not busy.         

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Many moons ago I was taught by the dollar bill trick. Imagine a dollar bill sitting in the sand and the ball is sitting on the face. Swing so the club enters the sand at the beginning of the bill and exits and the end of the bill. The sand will take the ball out of the trap.  Your swing speed dictates the distance the ball will travel. 
I personally use a 54* or a 60* depending on how quick I need the ball to get up and stop but use the same swing.

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7 minutes ago, Tom the Golf Nut said:

Many moons ago I was taught by the dollar bill trick. Imagine a dollar bill sitting in the sand and the ball is sitting on the face. Swing so the club enters the sand at the beginning of the bill and exits and the end of the bill. The sand will take the ball out of the trap.  Your swing speed dictates the distance the ball will travel. 
I personally use a 54* or a 60* depending on how quick I need the ball to get up and stop but use the same swing.

I love this easy explanation.  I use my 58 or 60 for greenside bunkers.  Love playing sand shots.

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I absolutely hate the sand.  It’s a hard thing to practice at a course with no practice bunkers.  I think this year I will drop balls in traps  whenever no one is behind me, to at least get a few practice hits in.  I think I recently read a rule where you can drop out and take a 2 shot penalty. That would be my best play right now. 

Jnr

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I hated/feared the sand until I got my 60° cobra snakebite wedge. I said it in my review, but it completely changed my bunker game. I am now confident I’ll get out in one and have a shot at saving par, but worst case outcome is a two putt bogey most times. 
 

@Tom the Golf Nut that analogy is awesome. 

 

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32 minutes ago, unccross said:

I absolutely hate the sand.  It’s a hard thing to practice at a course with no practice bunkers.  I think this year I will drop balls in traps  whenever no one is behind me, to at least get a few practice hits in.  I think I recently read a rule where you can drop out and take a 2 shot penalty. That would be my best play right now. 

Tom's explanation is perfect and once you get the hang of it, you will love the sand. If course is slow, drop some and practice. 

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When playing as a single, on my approach I would hit to the green on my first ball and hit a second ball into a green side bunker. This way I got to practice bunker play in real conditions. I tried to tie or beat the score with the first ball. This put pressure on and really helped me improve my sand game. A game within a game. 

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On 11/23/2023 at 9:30 AM, fixyurdivot said:

I'd like to hear from those of you who have made this part of your game an area of focus/improvement, and how you went about it.  Did you take lessons?  Did you find some on-line DIY instructional sources?

My first lessons were out of Jack Nicklaus Little Gold book, how to play out of bunkers, plus a few lessons along the way.  Nicklaus advocated opening the face of the sand wedge and pick up the club like you're going to chop wood.  I see my golf buddies hitting out of sand and they use the same swing as they were in the fairway.  The SW face is square & they take the club back low to the ground (sand), then have a more difficult time getting the ball out.  Hitting it thin or too fat. Martin, on Golf Channel, also a proponent of picking the club up during take away and as @Tom the Golf Nut described so well, imagine a dollar bill. The sand will pop the ball out, just maintain speed through the swing.  Deceleration is death.  
Like @Jnoble89, I also found the 60 degree ( now use a 58 degree) wedges to work great out of the sand. For fluffy sand I use the SW which for me is 54 degree. 

Out of wet sand from greenside bunkers, former Champions Tour player Bruce Fleisher gave a lesson on GC how to get out of wet sand. It really works.  His lesson was to open the face of the wedge, to use the bounce and keep your hands behind the club head and make sure the club head remains in front of your hands through the swing.  With Florida rains, wet bunkers are a norm in the summer.  What a great tip and I do practice the swing with my hands behind the ball & clubhead. 

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11 hours ago, Tom the Golf Nut said:

When playing as a single, on my approach I would hit to the green on my first ball and hit a second ball into a green side bunker. This way I got to practice bunker play in real conditions. I tried to tie or beat the score with the first ball. This put pressure on and really helped me improve my sand game. A game within a game. 

Well, when I aim for the flag I can always hit the bunker... the solution to this entire question now seems quite obvious 🤣

9 hours ago, tdroma98 said:

Nicklaus advocated opening the face of the sand wedge and pick up the club like you're going to chop wood.

Interesting.  I should video myself making sand shots and see what my backswing looks like... maybe I'm too shallow? The "chopping wood" idea would seem to risk the tendency to decelerate.  The "dollar bill" technique has been around for some time and that is one I try to visualize on sand shots.  I typically get the ball out on the first attempt but it's distance control I struggle with. 

I see a good many players here in our community spend several strokes excavating themselves out of bunkers.  They ruin an otherwise good round of golf. I also don't see the practice bunkers used often, which is kind of odd since bunker play is typically the weakest part of amateurs games.  

 

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50 minutes ago, fixyurdivot said:

 I also don't see the practice bunkers used often, which is kind of odd since bunker play is typically the weakest part of amateurs games.  

 

I hardly ever use the practice bunkers. At least at the courses I have been a member at. The practice bunker conditions were very different from the course bunker conditions. Seems like the grounds crew did not maintain them to the standards of the course. Less sand, hard pack, pebbles, and such. High end course bunkers are usually similar to course conditions. 

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6 hours ago, Tom the Golf Nut said:

I hardly ever use the practice bunkers. At least at the courses I have been a member at. The practice bunker conditions were very different from the course bunker conditions. Seems like the grounds crew did not maintain them to the standards of the course. Less sand, hard pack, pebbles, and such. High end course bunkers are usually similar to course conditions. 

Fortunately ours are in quite good shape... partly because they see little use 😁.   

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22 hours ago, Tom the Golf Nut said:

When playing as a single, on my approach I would hit to the green on my first ball and hit a second ball into a green side bunker. This way I got to practice bunker play in real conditions. I tried to tie or beat the score with the first ball. This put pressure on and really helped me improve my sand game. A game within a game. 

Great practice!  I usually just toss a ball into the bunker because if ! tried to hit one into the bunker, I'd probably miss.  😂

I played 9 holes on Tuesday and I was in 3 bunkers and all had varying degrees of sand.  They were all wet from overnight rain, but two of them had lots of new sand added recently and the last one had almost no sand with a close 4-foot lip to cover.  That was the only one that I got onto the green, but hit it waaay long.  We have too many bunkers and too few maintenance crew to maintain them.

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On 11/23/2023 at 9:30 AM, fixyurdivot said:

 

Fortunately, three of our courses have practice areas with sand traps.  This is now moved to my #1 area for improvement.  I'd like to hear from those of you who have made this part of your game an area of focus/improvement, and how you went about it.  Did you take lessons?  Did you find some on-line DIY instructional sources?

tigerno3.gif&ehk=U7hq07o3uEbVFaYfqsHJsXT

This is an instructor I have worked with in the past and some tips on how to improve bunker play.  He didn't teach me bunkers, but this is basically what I do.  Don't hit them all close, but I am at least out of greenside bunkers in 1. 

 

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I will definitely be taking my wedges to the sand trap I have near me! I am scared shitless I either hit to far back and stuff it in the bunker again or sail it over the green! I have zero confidence or consistency when it comes to gsb fairway bunkers are fine cuz I just swing through! But I have a lovely little short game area at my local course! 

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