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ryohazuki222

Bunker Woes

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I play municipal courses. A really rough estimate would be about half the bunkers are fluffy enough to slide a club through. The other half are more like hard clay with a light sand coating.

Out of the fluffier bunkers my sand play is pretty good. But I can't for the life of me figure out these "rock bunkers" as I call them.

I play bunkers by opening the stance and the club. I try and hit the sand and use the bounce like you're supposed to. The problem is with these "rock bunkers" unless I smack the hell out it, I can't get the club through the sand. It almost seems like it's hard enough to hit a regular chip as if I was on the fairway/greenside.... but mentally I have issues with it and still haven't tried that way.

So my question really is if it's my problem and I need to work on my sand game more in those hard bunkers. Or if it's a course issue that doesn't come up on better maintained courses?

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I play a lot of munis and I have encountered the same problem. Those hard packed bunker spots used to get me all the time. It basically comes down to how much of your ball is buried.

If the ball is obviously submerged in the sand, then you can tell it is the fluffier stuff, so give it your normal bunker shot. If the ball is sitting high on the sand and is obviously on the hard packed stuff, try and pick it clean off there, maybe taking that top thin layer of sand.... that is how I have dealt with it anyway, hope that helps. Good luck.

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I changed my approach to bunker shots based on Stan Utley's method (somewhat, at least). I do not open the club face and hit a little closer to the ball with ball even back in my stance a little bit and hands a little forward. This setup seems to really suit those harder bunkers better than the traditional open-clubface method. I may not get it as close all the time this way, but I always get it out and it's almost always on the green. This same approach also works in the fluffier stuff.

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I play munis most of the time too and I feel your pain - sometimes you're just forced to try to pick it clean. I too have read Stan Utley's book and the one thing I couldn't grasp was precisely his bunker technique. Glad it works for you though!

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The first thing to know is your wedge "setup". I have a 54* sand wedge with LOTS of bounce (14*), and a 58* lob wedge with slight bounce (8*). I use the sand wedge in the fluffy stuff, and the lob wedge on the wet cement bunkers.

Sometimes, it is safer to just pick the ball clean or chip the ball out like they do in Japan. Also, keep in mind that if the sand is that hard, and you don't have a big lip to get over, you can always use your putter. There is no shame in using your putter to get out of a bunker, and there are no "pictures" on the score card.... only numbers.

Good luck!

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Thanks for the tips guys.

The one I especially had issues with was this hole:

"rock bunker" that is about 6 feet deep and STEEP. Flat green. but not much room to work with. Behind the green there is a semisteep 20 foot drop off.

Is it a lost cause trying to hit the green? The only other option is really to hit it sideways or backwards into the fairway.

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I expierenced such bunkers in the past - they are nice for longer shots, but not so nice on greenside shots.

Like others said you basically have two options - either pick it clean if you have enough room to work with or just swing hard at it, and try to cut a divot under the ball with an open clubface to get it out. Dont even try a soft shot, else the bounce will just blade your ball somewhere.

Another possibility i saw couple of times is to putt it out when the lip isnt a problem.

Generally - such kind of bunkers are cuz of bad maintanence or environmental influences in combination with the wrong sand (e.g. in hot humid areas sand that takes in lots of this humidity) and the course management should take care of it.

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Dig, dig, dig. I Take my SW, open the face a bit, play the ball well back in my stance (helps promote a steep angle of attack) and dig the ball out. I'm not trying to slide the club under the ball, I'm trying to take a divot. I play the shot almost like I'm playing off of hard pan. It takes a little getting used to, but it works.

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Generally - such kind of bunkers are cuz of bad maintanence or environmental influences in combination with the wrong sand (e.g. in hot humid areas sand that takes in lots of this humidity) and the course management should take care of it.

Well you know, bunkers are hazards.

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Dig, dig, dig. I Take my SW, open the face a bit, play the ball well back in my stance (helps promote a steep angle of attack) and dig the ball out. I'm not trying to slide the club under the ball, I'm trying to take a divot. I play the shot almost like I'm playing off of hard pan. It takes a little getting used to, but it works.

You don't worry about your club's safety?!

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