Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

Short Game

Read The Sand To Become A Better Bunker Player

May 04, 2017

Illustration by James Yang

Your ball landed in a greenside bunker. Now you've got to get it on the green and hopefully close to the hole. Before you swing, ask yourself one question: How thick is the sand?

If it's fluffy, think shallow swing. Widen your stance, address the ball toward your front foot, and set the clubshaft so it's vertical. This will promote a swing where the club skims lightly through the sand. Any deeper and you might not get through it. As the clubhead passes under the ball, let your wrists hinge it upward to create more height and spin—great for steep bunker lips and holes that are close by.

When the sand is firm, think steep swing. Play the ball in the middle of your stance and lean the shaft a little toward the target. This will help the club dig into that thick stuff and prevent you from blading the shot. Keep in mind that the ball will come out lower and with less spin. Allow for more roll.