Scoring From Greenside Bunkers

I thought we came up with a pretty good list of the world’s best bunker players in Advanced Elements of the Short Game: Tiger Woods (he’s not good at much of anything now), Jordan Spieth, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros (who credited growing up along the beach in Spain for his amazing sand game), Tom Kite, Chi-Chi Rodridguez, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, and Ernie Els.

Luke Donald leads the PGA Tour
Luke Donald leads the PGA Tour in distance to the hole from greenside bunkers, but he doesn’t hit many.

Here are a couple of stats I found interesting. The best average distance to the hole from greenside bunkers on the PGA Tour is 6’3″ (Donald) and the furthest is 12’8″ (Andrew Svoboda) with the average number being around 9’4.” Those numbers include all types of lies and distances that players face around the greens. But here’s the amazing thing: 22 players hit less than one bunker per round, the average number of bunkers hit is 1.27, and no player hits two. The best players in the world find a way to stay out of the sand.

There are a wide variety of techniques to get out of greenside bunkers. Tom Watson has an excellent DVD series. Jim McLean can get out of a buried lie with just one arm. Here are some things to keep in mind depending on the situation:

Fair Lie
* A blast shot takes 3x as much force as a shot in a good lie
* Lob and sand wedges may not be the best clubs to use (8 or 9-iron)
* Body is aligned parallel to the target line
* Catch 3″ of sand before impact

Shots Close to High Lips
* Choose a club that will get the ball out of the bunker and onto the green
* Widen stance, bend knees to set-up lower to the ball
* Grip down, swing with arms, shorten arc, use steeper motion
* Open stance
* Open face to point at target
* The greater the swing speed, the higher and farther the shot will go



Buried Lies, Open-Faced Method
* Use a lob wedge
* Hold the face open and swing across the target line
* Play the ball in the center of the stance
* Weight on lead foot
* Hinge wrist early and fully
* Bury the club in the sand

Buried Lies, Closed-Face Method
* Weight on leading side
* Path is the same as a pitch shot
* Ball will come out lower with spin

Buried Lies, Square-Faced Method (for fried egg lies)
* Ball played in back of sternum with hands forward
* Weight on leading side
* Hinge wrists early for extra force
* Clubhead may stay in sand on follow-through

The sparks fly when you have to cut-down the shaft of the club you're building.
The sparks really start flying when you cut-down the shaft of the club you’re building.

How To Build a 3-Wood
In Golf Club Assembly & Repair, we built our first golf club of the semester that we can actually keep. We got to choose from a variety of drivers and fairway woods before assembling the clubs from start to finish. I chose to build a 3-wood.

First, we weighed out the individual components using a gram-weigh scale: clubhead, shaft, ferrule, and grip. We then used those numbers to calculate how much length we needed to take off the shaft to get the proper flex and swing weight. It was a lot of fun, and the sparks were really flying!

I will admit that I didn’t do a good enough job of mixing the two-part epoxy used to affix the clubhead to the shaft. You have to sit there and really stir it for at least 20 seconds to get the proper consistency. Otherwise, what normally takes five minutes to set could take 30 minutes or longer. Oops! I guess if the clubhead goes flying when I hit it, I’ll just fix it myself. But I can’t wait to hit it.


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