Sand Play: Club Selection

This is the Basic Sand Play Club Selection Lesson. This lesson is designed to help you choose the right club for the sand shot you are facing. I know it seems strange, as you would think that you would automatically grab your sand wedge. However, you will face a variety of different conditions in the sand.

You will want to change clubs when the sand is wet, dry, hard, deep and for different length shots. Knowing what club is the most effective, will help you get your ball closer to the hole in order to make more putts and lower your scores.

Sand Play Club Selection: Tools

  • In the picture above, you will see (from left to right) a lob wedge, sand wedge and an 8 iron. Each of these clubs can be used very effectively in the sand given the right situation.
  • The differences between the clubs is in the loft and the bounce.
  • The loft is the angle of the clubface. The higher the loft the higher the ball will go. The standard lofts for these clubs are..8 iron 40 degrees, pitching wedge 48 degrees, sand wedge 56 degrees, and lob wedge 60 degrees. It is possible that your clubs are 1-2 degrees off from this. Each company determines it's own loft patterns for their sets.
  • Practicing with all of these clubs will help you for game situations in which you may need to use all of these.
  • Every time you play, and you have to hit a bunker shot, try to remember what club you used and it's result. A catalog of bunker experiences in your head will make the club selection easier and more effective for your future rounds.

Sand Play Club Selection: Example #1

You have hit your ball from the fairway into the greenside bunker. The pin is sitting in the middle of the green, and the lip of the trap is only a couple of feet high. Your ball is sitting on top of the sand, and the sand is nice and dry. This is a pretty standard bunker shot.

You will want to use your sand wedge for this situation. Also, take out your sand wedge...

  • When the shot is under 30 yards.
  • When the sand is dry.
  • When the lip of the bunker is more that a foot high.
  • If the sand is more than an inch deep.

Sand Play Club Selection: Example #2

It's raining and you miss hit your tee shot on the par three (your hands slipped) and you have left your ball in front bunker. You get there and your ball is sitting nicely on top of the sand, however, the rain has packed the sand down so that it is extremely hard. The flag is only 15 yards away, so you will need as much height on the shot as possible.

You will want to use a lob wedge for this shot. A lob wedge has less bounce on the bottom of the club, and generally has a sharper edge. This means it will be easier to dig through the hard packed sand, but also get the height you need. Please see the Backs to Basics Equipment Lessons for more information on the differences in the wedges.

Use your lob wedge when...

  • The sand is wet and packed down hard.
  • The sand is less than an inch deep.
  • The lip of the bunker is over 5 feet high.
  • The pin is less than 5 yards away with a 3 foot lip or higher.

Sand Play Club Selection: Example #3

Sometimes golf architects will place a a bunker about 10 to 15 yards short of the green, especially on par 5's. This is to grab those errant second shots from players trying to hit the green in two. This bunker is placed there to protect the hole from surrendering really low scores.

If you hit a great shot you get a chance at eagle, but if you miss you are faced with a difficult bunker shot. The long explosion is very tough to play because we don't face the situation very often. You can make this shot simpler by using the same swing technique and changing clubs.

Instead of taking your sand wedge...try your pitching wedge. Using less loft will allow you to make the same swing but carry the extra distance. You should get more roll on the green as well.

Use your pitching wedge when...

  • The shot is over 30 yards in total length.
  • The lip is less than 2 feet high.

Thank you for taking the Basic Sand Play Club Selection Lesson.  Once you feel you are ready to move on, you can tackle the Advanced Sand Shot Lesson series. It makes your sand play much more versatile and can take your whole game to the next level.

Good luck with your practicing and playing. May you reach golf goals sooner with the help of free-golf-lessons.com.

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