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Killa

How Do You Deal With Different Bunker Conditions?

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Very often on the courses I play the bunkers are in very different conditions from hole to hole. Yesterday was an example where I wound up in 4 different bunkers and no two were the same. 

 

One was like solid concrete, another you’d sink in to your ankles when stepping in. 

 

So naturally I tried to chip out of one of the hard ones only for my club to dig in deep and the sand being much softer than anticipated and caught two clean shots in two other bunkers where the bounce helped me get cleanly on the ball when the sand was much harder than anticipated. 

 

The worst thing that in relation to my hcp I’m an excellent bunker player when I approximately know what to expect from the sand, but these changing conditions on the same day in the same round are killing me. 

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1 minute ago, billchao said:

I deal with different bunker conditions by cursing.

Well the greenkeepers mother crossed my tongue multiple times yesterday...

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5 minutes ago, Killa said:

Well the greenkeepers mother crossed my tongue multiple times yesterday...

Well that's not very nice. What did she ever do to you?

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I use different clubs if the conditions demand it.  Normal rule of thumb is a sand wedge, but I will use a PW or 60* LW with low bounce if necessary.

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Locally, I deal with a lot firm bunkers. They get watered, then sun baked. The top crust is usually pretty thick. 

Right or wrong, the firmer the bunkers, the less bounce I use. I tend to use my very low bounce lob wedge quite a bit.

I take a big swing, and just throw the club head behind the ball, with a "splat" impact, and then into my follow through. Ball comes out high, and soft, usually with a little run.

Very rarely due I need more than one swing to get out of a green side bunker.

 For fairway bunkers, it just depends on how quick I need ball altitude to clear the lip, and then how much yardage I need. In that order. When ever I can, I use metal wood. Usually my 7W. The flatter bottom tends to slide easier into the ball. If I need quicker ball altitude, I will use what ever iron I think is best suited for the shot. 

However, for the most part, I have a pretty good track record of staying out of bunkers, and other hazards. That said, I still practice those shots.  

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Since the new pro has taken over there has been some mild effort to actually have some sand in the traps at the home courses. This, of course, is limited by budgets and the available labor, but they probably got actual sand in half of them.

With any amount of sand, I use the same approach. I try to thump the spot behind the ball and then I hope like hell.

On greenside dirt bunkers, I'll take my 60-degree and play it like a normal pitch shot with ball-first contact. Further out, it's the same only with the SW.

 

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I played a course the other day where the pro shop told players to rake the hard pan sand first and place their ball in that area.    There were only four holes with sand in the bunkers.   The course is known for its terrible conditions but I was able to play for $10.   (Probably the last time)

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For softer sand I'm going to open up the club face and hit an inch behind the ball - classic sand shot. I don't like to take much more than a half swing (when I swing harder I tend to get all ball no sand), so I'll use one of 3 wedges to change the distance.

For firm sand, I'm almost always using my 54 with a square club face.  Hit down behind the ball to make sure it gets out - it will roll more.

My hope/goal with softer sand is to have a decent look at getting up and down.  I'm probably above average at doing so.  My goal with firm sand is to get on the green with a good chance at a two putt - much more realistic.

 

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26 minutes ago, dennyjones said:

I played a course the other day where the pro shop told players to rake the hard pan sand first and place their ball in that area. 

Yeah. That's a local rule for us that gets employed as often as not.

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41 minutes ago, dennyjones said:

I played a course the other day where the pro shop told players to rake the hard pan sand first and place their ball in that area.    There were only four holes with sand in the bunkers.   The course is known for its terrible conditions but I was able to play for $10.   (Probably the last time)

That's a local rule I'll start employing if I'm playing solo - it looks real bad when playing with a foursome. Another work around is to take a practice swing to see how hard the sand actually is. Can you open the club face? The course is in otherwise great condition. They just are too cheap to put sand in the bunkers. It got to the point where, playing by the rules it was more beneficial to take a 2-stroke penalty, drop behind and pitch over it. Fewer strokes and less frustration. Another option is to drop my 64 wedge in the bag and chop out of them. Practice bunker shots they say. The practice bunker at the driving range on the same course has sand in it. How is that going to help?

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umm...  the same way I deal with all bunker conditions.   Swing hard and pray.  

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Where I play we have bunkers that are " ground under repair".  They have been poorly maintained to the point that they are u playable.  The sand is so washed out of them that they are twice as big as they once were.  There are weeds and crabgrass in them.  Very little sand ( yet when they plug and dress the greens they use a stupid amount of sand).

He other day I saw something sticking up out of one and it was a piece of a ceramic or China dinner plate.  One of our guys laughed and said that bunker might be an ancient Mayan burial ground.

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18 minutes ago, Typhoon92 said:

Where I play we have bunkers that are " ground under repair".  They have been poorly maintained to the point that they are u playable.  The sand is so washed out of them that they are twice as big as they once were.  There are weeds and crabgrass in them.  Very little sand ( yet when they plug and dress the greens they use a stupid amount of sand).

He other day I saw something sticking up out of one and it was a piece of a ceramic or China dinner plate.  One of our guys laughed and said that bunker might be an ancient Mayan burial ground.

Typhoon, I think you need a new golf course... and a new set of china.

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2 hours ago, gbogey said:

For softer sand I'm going to open up the club face and hit an inch behind the ball - classic sand shot. I don't like to take much more than a half swing (when I swing harder I tend to get all ball no sand), so I'll use one of 3 wedges to change the distance.

For firm sand, I'm almost always using my 54 with a square club face.  Hit down behind the ball to make sure it gets out - it will roll more.

My hope/goal with softer sand is to have a decent look at getting up and down.  I'm probably above average at doing so.  My goal with firm sand is to get on the green with a good chance at a two putt - much more realistic.

 

Bunkers are my nemesis, and firm sand is the worst of all.

 

Are you saying you would approach playing the ftim sand shots like you would from from the grass? I'm assuming a softer strike and let it pop out and roll on? These shots have always eluded me.

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I wish I knew.  Most of the bunkers in the L.A. City system are dirt, and most often seem to be hard dirt.  I look to avoid them and have played a good number of rounds without hitting any sand lately.  Five of my six rounds in August, no sand.  

I discovered last round, entirely by accident, that sometimes bunkers have sand in them, and I can hit a good shot (one sand shot last round, not my home course, hit to 6' or so.  I'd have been happy at four times that distance). 

No idea what to do with hard sand.  I treat it as a very very tight lie and try a half shot, but all sorts of things go bad when I'm wrong.  And sometimes I think there's sand, so I try what I think a sand shot should be and blade it.

I wish they'd get around to putting red stakes around bunkers. 

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Like PGANAPATHY, I tend to use different clubs. That said, the bunkers when I play most are all very consistently like concrete. It's an exception to have sand in them that requires a blast shot. I guess 90% of my consideration to choose a club depends on how much room I have to work with. The other 10% is a matter of whether I need to consider getting over the lip of the bunker, but that's rare.

Having recently changed to a Ping G700 iron set, I find the really large sole on the clubs makes chipping from the concrete bunkers a lot easier. I tend to use my gap wedge as much as I can and I feel confident the leading edge won't dig in with that big sole gliding along the sand.

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I was talking with our local golf course manager the other day about the lack of sand and maintenance of bunkers on our course and he told me that the cost per square foot to maintain a bunker is now almost the same cost to maintain a green. They have to be edged and raked, bunker faces need to be packed and sand needs to be added because it gets washed away over time through normal erosion. Furthermore, unless you're playing at a high end country club where dues can simply go up and the membership has to pay (and can afford to) in order to maintain conditions to the highest standard possible, declining conditions of bunkers is going to become more prevalent at most golf courses. 

He cited an example where a particular deep bunker on our course had new sand added to a depth of 4", the faces were packed and the edges were trimmed. It took 4 men all day plus the cost of the sand which isn't the everyday stuff that you can get at any local quarry. That night there was a thunderstorm and downpour and the next morning that very same bunker was completely washed out, wasting the 32 man-hours that could have been used to maintain other areas of the golf course.

The summation of the conversation is as follows: Golf courses around the country have had their maintenance budgets cut, from an average of 50% of their gross profit to 30%. Most of their budget is spent on labor so there are fewer on staff to do the work and so they are focusing on higher priority areas of the golf course.

On our course we have all pretty much adapted the lift, rake and replace procedure for those balls that are in bunkers that are in poor condition.

Edited by xrayvizhen

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