BANGOR, Maine — A wayward tee shot or approach shot has landed in a bunker or in the deep rough.
The next shot probably will dictate whether you’ll be able to save par on the hole.
Bangor Municipal assistant golf pro Rob Jarvis offers the following tips for enhancing your chances to salvage a par in these situations:
One of the first things we want to do when we’re hitting a bunker shot is make sure we have really good footing. I’ll dig my feet a little bit into the sand so it’s not as slippery, as if I was just standing on the surface.
The second thing is I’m going to make sure my body is aimed a little left of the target. I’m actually going to swinging across my swing plane versus going back and straight through.
Thirdly, open the sand wedge to add a lot of loft to it. This is going to increase the ease at which it comes out of the bunker and how much higher I can hit it as a result of a softer shot.
A typical amateur mistake with bunker shots is they use the leading edge of the golf club. With a bunker shot, you use the trailing edge of the club, which is what they call the bounce. If I use the leading edge of the club, it’s going to dig into the sand and it’s not going to come up. When you use the bounce, the club is going to do exactly that: It’s going to enter the bunker, get to the bottom of the sand and bounce out. I draw a line an inch or two behind the ball in the bunker. That’s where I want to enter the sand (with my club). One of the most important things is we want to enter behind the golf ball because the sand is what actually propels the ball out the sand, not the club face. I want to make sure my club keeps moving. You want to generate a lot of speed and make sure the club doesn’t stop in the sand. That’s how you leave bunker shots in the bunker and not get out onto the green.
First, make sure you dig your feet in; second, open your stance; third, open your club face; fourth, use the bounce angle of the golf club; and lastly, make sure you hit behind the ball and speed through the sand.
One of the most important things about playing the ball out of the rough is choosing the right club. If the grass is fairly tall, you’re going to have some problems getting the ball in the air. The most common mistake is if people are a long way from the green, they think they’re going to use a fairway wood or something with low loft. You can see by the frame, when you put a fairway wood behind the ball, there’s much more grass between the club face and the ball than there is when I put my iron behind the ball. That grass is going to reduce spin and disable the ball from being a pure strike on the actual club face itself, so I’ll take my medicine. Even though I might be left with a third shot, I’ll make sure I advance it. Don’t try to be a hero out of the rough. If it’s too deep, the most important thing is to advance it and control where you advance it.
Once you make your club selection, one of the things you want to do is make sure you have a steep angle of approach into the ball. A shallow angle will cause the grass to wrap around the hosel of the golf club and either hold it open or slam it shut. (The hosel is the neck of the golf club attached to the bottom of the shaft that connects the shaft to the clubhead.) Either situation isn’t going to yield a good shot. I’m going to take my stance and change it just a little bit. I’m going to put a little more weight on my left (front) side and swing the club a little bit more upright. I’m hoping to produce more like a cut or a fade shot. That will make the ball come out of the rough easier with a little more backspin, and it’s going to be under much more control.
When it comes time springtime, one of the common themes I have with my students is not hitting at the golf ball. We all think since the ball is on the ground, I’ve got to get it in the air and I want to hit it hard so I take my golf club back and swing down at the golf ball. It’s not exactly what we want to do in this game. This is a distance and direction game. You need to think of it more as if you’re playing a tennis match. A good tennis player doesn’t just hit the tennis ball; they hit it to a spot on the court. In golf, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to hit it on the green, in the fairway or away from the certain area. Oftentimes we lose sight of trying to drive the ball at a target, and we start making the theory of just hitting the golf ball — and where it goes, it goes. So I want you to think of is to picture a big pane of glass out in front of you. And think about making that ball fly like a missile through that glass. There’s a big difference between driving down and through to the target and just driving down at the ball.