How to Win From Sand
Find your go-to bunker shot to avoid disastrous scores
By Dave Pelz
Golf Magazine's technical and short-game consultant
You're one up in your match on the 18th hole. Your approach shot has found a green-side bunker, but your opponent has opened the door by dropping his approach in the water. All you need to do to win your match is to get out of the sand and into the hole in three shots. Your lie in the sand is good, and although there's water behind the flag, there's plenty of green out to the right.
If you saw last month's cover story, you know about having go-to shots when you need them. A go-to shot is one you can pull off successfully at least 90 percent of the time. Go-to shots aren't the greatest shots you can possibly hit, but the ones just good enough to ensure that you win. You need go-to shots all the time in golf, so let's take a look at your options here.
FIND YOUR GO-TO SAND SHOT
Hit 10 balls with each technique outlined on the follow slides. Count how often you fluff and leave shots in sand, or skull balls long. It's not how many good ones you hit; keep track of the bad ones. Your go-to shot is the one that gives you the lowest bad-shot percentage. You never know in this game when you'll need to play safe, and it's good to know how and when you need to do it.
2 of 5Leonard Kamsler
Blast at the Pin The pros usually blast shots out high and soft, stopping within 10 feet of the hole, even from a downslope. But with the water lurking in the background, why go at this pin if you don't need to?
3 of 5Leonard Kamsler
Blast to the Middle You should play this shot out to the right, to the fat part of the green (even when the lie is perfect). It's silly to play at this flagstick and risk a penalty, especially when all you need is a bogey.
4 of 5Leonard Kamsler
Clean Chip If blasting from the sand is a weakness in your game, picking the ball cleanly off the sand with a 7-iron chip shot is a good option when the bunker lip is low. There's plenty of room for this shot here.
5 of 5Leonard Kamsler
The Putt-Out The safest escape from a shallow bunker is to putt the ball out. You'll rarely catch it fat, and with a little practice you'll escape every time. The question is, can you get down in two more strokes?
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