How to Read Sand to Control the Distance of Bunker Shots

By Gary Wiren

Let's talk about controlling the distance of your shot when you are in the bunker. Now one of the first things that very few people hear about is reading the sand. You always hear about people reading the greens, but how about reading the sand? You read the sand with your feet a little bit and you read it with your eyes. You read it with your feet to feel depth. If it is real deep and soft you have to swing harder, that is all there is too it.

How Hard to Swing in Sand?

If it is firm you swing easier because that is going to make the ball come out quite a bit faster from firm sand. Is it wet, that makes a difference. Also if you are experienced, the kind of grain of sand. Is it that little sugar sand in which you always have to swing a little harder or are the sand pebbles a little bit bigger and then you don't have to swing as hard? But that is something you don't hear about very often.

The normal things in the sand are, well let's see, I want to hit a long bunker shot I should swing harder, and that is generally true. If I swing this hard on a normal bunker shot it is going to go out quite a ways. If I swing with this much effort, doing nothing else different, it is not going to go out as far. So obviously the speed of the clubhead makes a difference.

How to Control Distance on a Sand Bunker Shot

Decrease the Amount of Distance

But there are some other ways which I use a lot to vary distance. One of the best is simply to open up the face for the soft shot, that way you can swing with aggression and not decelerate, which is the big killer in the bunker shot. So I am opening the face quite a bit now, I am aiming left with my body and I am taking a bigger swing but the ball does not go out a long ways because I have taken this club and opened the face up and added a great deal of loft.

Another way to decrease the amount of distance in the shot is to get a steeper angle of approach. Make your swing more V shaped than U shaped. So this will be a hard swing and a short shot. Up steep, down steep and a little dinky shot. It is because your vector force is going down rather than forward and that is your angle of approach. Now you can also work on how much sand you hit. I don't particularly like that. I like to hit in the same place and use one of those other ways to try to control my distance.

On the longer bunker shot I will get a little wider, I will swing a little more level and I will keep the face just a bit more square and the ball will go out a good distance with a wider stance and shallower angle of approach. There you have it; you find the way that works best for you because there is no one way to do it. How to control distance in the bunker shot.

Category: Bunker Play

About the Instructor

Gary Wiren
Gary Wiren
Trump International Golf Club
3505 Summit Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL. 33406
Tel: 800-FOR-GARY
Tel: 800-367-4267