124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Short Game

Make this club selection change when you have to chip over a greenside bunker

September 15, 2022

Keyur Khamar

You’ve been here before: In the rough, with a greenside bunker between you and the green. If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve popped this chip up, left it short and landed in the bunker too many times. Molly Braid, a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher out of Westmoor Golf Club in Wisconsin, says club choice is likely your problem.

She sees a lot of her students look at this shot and grab a sand wedge or lob wedge, with the goal of hoisting the ball up over the bunker. This thinking, Braid says, isn’t quite right. Grabbing a high-lofted club is what makes it so easy to pop it up and leave it short. You can use slightly less loft, because bunkers that you have to fly a ball over aren’t actually as intimidating as they look.

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“Bunkers are down in the ground. You don’t need it to go way up in the air,” Braid says. “Instead of taking a great big swing with a lob wedge or sand wedge and trying to hit it high over the sand -- which we see a lot of times coming up short -- grab your pitching wedge or gap wedge and do a pitching stroke and setup.”

When you’re staring at a bunker that you need to fly a shot over, it’s easy to think, I need to get this up in the air. And you do – but not in the same way you’d need to loft one up over a tree. The loft in your gap or pitching wedge is usually enough. Just make sure you have a bit of green between you and the flag, because this will release more than a sand wedge would.

“It’ll roll out nicely, with a lot of forgiveness,” Braid says.