I'm certainly glad I don't have to deal with that level of street crime. It's a real problem. Rio / Brazil clearly has some structural issues.
That said, I can empathize with authorities who take their jobs seriously that they don't want people wasting their time with cock and bull stories embellished for self-serving drama in international media, especially if they think their 'prominence' makes them immune. Tourism is an important industry / income source for Rio, but I haven't seen Brazilian authorities critiquing or poo-pooing any Olympians who were victims of actual robberies.
There's probably also a little bit of playing to local opinion in the response from Rio authorities to Lochte.
To get the handle on sand options, go out to a sandy hole on a slow day and try different clubs from the different bunkers: fairway and greenside and near-greenside (60-yard blast really tough). In an hour you'll learn a lot. As @Dave2512 suggests, find out what works for you.
Don Trahan has an interesting marketing speil, but I stepped away from DT after trying his swing concept for a few weeks. Basically, the partial turn left me with no tension at the top, and I had direction problems on shots.
Also, after the online freebies I got bombed with 3-5 e-mails a week asking me to buy full membership in the DT kingdom. I finally blocked the address.
@iacas warned me away from guys like Trahan during my first year on TST.