Making bunker shots


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Updated: 4/18/2007 10:42 am Published: 4/18/2007 10:42 am


Whether you call them bunkers, sand traps, or hazards, they can be a nightmare for beginning players or, sometimes, a strategic place for a savvy pro to aim. With practice, getting out of a bunker can be as simple as a chip shot from the fringe. To understand bunker shots, take a good look at your sand wedge. On the bottom, you'll see a bump that you won't find on the other clubs. This is called the 'bounce.' When you swing at a ball that rests on sand, the bounce will be the first part of the club to touch the ground, allowing the rest of the club head to slide underneath the ball and propel it out of the bunker. Conditions at individual courses will determine which kind of wedge you need. Hard sand requires very little bounce; soft sand needs a lot. If your ball is buried deep in the sand, you need to try a different approach, since it's not possible to slide the club head beneath the ball. Instead, you need to chop down on the sand an inch or two behind the ball, allowing the sand, rather than the club, to send the ball flying. One word of caution: this type of shot won't put any backspin on the ball, so allow for a long roll. Finally, there are a few pieces of bunker etiquette to observe. Always enter a bunker from the low side, so you don't collapse the steep wall that the greenskeeper built. When you leave the bunker, it's polite to erase your footprints. You can use your foot, or many courses keep rakes available for this purpose.

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