Having just birdied the par-4 fourth hole, Tiger Woods hit a 302-yard tee shot into the right fringe on the 520-yard, par-4 fifth hole. From 232 yards away, his approach shot landed short and left of the green in a bunker 63 feet, 5 inches from the flag. The sand was still wet from Thursday’s rain, but using his 60° wedge Woods holed-out for birdie.
How you can hit this shot:
Mike Perpich, a GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher based at nearby River Pines Golf Club in Alpharetta, Ga., says, “Bunker shots are all about speed and knowing how the club will work through the sand.”
When the ball is resting on top of wet sand, Perpich says to play the shot as if you were hitting a ball on hard pan. “A sand wedge’s bounce doesn’t work through sand as well when the sand is wet, and the ball tends to come out faster. You have to take that into account when you are considering your landing area.” So ignore your instincts to swing hard and expect the ball to react more like a typical pitch shot than a bunker shot.
When the ball has settled into wet sand, as Woods’s did, you need to use a different tactic and blast it out. “Tiger was trying to hit more down than through the ball on that shot,” Perpich says. Ideally, the force of the swing will dislodge the ball and pop it up to the green. There will be very little spin created, so expect the ball to run out after it lands.
One common mistake players make in wet sand is to dig their feet in too deep. This lowers the bottom of the swing arc and leads to fat shots. So, dig in just deep enough to ensure good stability during the swing, but remember to choke down on the grip to keep the bottom of your arc in the same place.
Tiger Woods on the shot:
“I didn’t have a very good lie, and I was just trying to basically get myself inside 10, 15 feet so I’d have a putt at it. There was a bunch of sand there, and I hit it pretty hard, and it came out great, but I still thought it was going to go by the hole about eight feet. Next thing you know, I hear a big roar. I thought it hit the flag and scooted off to the side. Okay, no big deal. I walked up and it was gone. Nice surprise.”