Jeff Mitchell: Hi, this is Jeff Mitchell with The Golf Standard.
Today we're talking about shot selection and club selection out of a bunker when you have, really, a good lie.
Now, there are a couple of variations on this.
This one right here is in kind of the bottom of the sand trap, and it's got a good lie, but I have a pretty far carry distance, probably 12 yards, and only about 6 or 7 yards of green to work with.
As I get closer to the green, it's a shorter shot to carry out of the bunker, land on the green, but it's also on an uphill slope, and that's going to change our club selection and maybe our shot selection by just a little bit.
So as we begin to make decisions about these shots, there's a few things to consider.
One is the texture of the sand.
I'm going to assume that this is a medium-base sand.
It's not real fluffy, it's not hard-packed, and so the ball comes out a medium distance, as I said.
Another thing that we have to consider is the slope that the ball is on.
If it's nice and level, the loft of the club is going to pretty much give you a certain trajectory as you go to an uphill slope, it's going to add to that trajectory, and that may or may not change the actual club selection.
Now, for me, I carry two sand wedges.
I have the 54 degree and a 58 degree, and it is just my tendency, but I really don't use a 58-degree sand wedge unless I just kind of have to.
For me, it's a wedge where I have to take a very large swing, usually to hit the golf ball a relatively short distance, so I stick with a 54-degree wedge most of the time.
Obviously, there are circumstances where that might change, and this could be one of them right here.
I have a ball in the bottom of the sand.
It's nice and level, good lie.
I have 12 yards to get on the green, and I have 7 yards to get to the flag.
That means this ball's going to have to carry a pretty long ways and stop quickly, so I might take out a 58-degree wedge just so that I can elevate the shot a little bit more, a higher trajectory, and get the ball to land a little bit softer.
Now, I don't like spinning the ball either, so that's another reason why this might be a 58-degree shot.
As we start moving a little bit closer to the green, now your choice has changed just a little bit.
Not only is this on an uphill slope, but it's closer to the green.
Now I only have about 10 yards to carry and 7 yards to work with, and that's a little bit easier combination.
Now, I can still use that 58, and I can elevate it, and I can carry it probably 3 or 4 yards on the green and stop the ball, or I can stick with my 54-degree wedge.
I've got plenty of green here because, with that little bit of elevation or a slope change, it's going to come off a little bit steeper, and so that means it's going to stop a little bit quicker.
Again, as I move up a couple more yards, I have a much more severe slope, and for me, what this does is, it changes me definitely to the 54-degree wedge, because when I set out to this one, I want to make sure that I'm perpendicular to the slope, and by doing that, I'm adding quite a bit of loft to this shot.
I'm also going to have to carry the ball farther also, because it's going to come off a lot steeper.
It's going to land a lot sharper, and it's going to stop a lot quicker.
When you start getting up into the lip of a bunker right here, this could or could not be a little bit different.
I don't have to carry this ball near as far.
I only have about 6 yards that I have to carry it, and I've still got that 7 yards of green, but from right here, the key issue is, for me, I don't want to make a real big swing when I have a really severe slope like this, because I might lose my balance, so I'm definitely going to stick with a 54, and in certain circumstances, I might even go down to a pitching wedge or a 9 iron.
If I open those up, I have a little bit of balance on the club, but what is key is getting set up perpendicular slope so that the divot that you take is very similar to the one you would take when it's on the bottom of the sand.
As you're looking at these different slopes, different lies, obviously here we're working with a pretty good lie, but as you go from flat to a little bit of slope to a lot of slope, kind of get a good picture in your head of what that shot needs to look like, and that's going to help you to choose what club you want to use also.
As an example, I like tossing golf balls.
I can tell if I throw it nice and low, it's going to roll out, and that might be good, depending on how far you want it to carry, but you also might want to bring it in nice and high, get the golf ball to stop quickly.
Tossing a golf ball here might give you a good visual, might help you to make this decision on what shot you want to hit and with which club.
So even out of a good lie, sometimes you have to make some adjustments.
Make sure you're paying good attention to the slope of the sand, maybe even the texture, but that's a lesson for another time, but enjoy these types of shots, maybe toss some golf balls, get a good visual of what you're trying to create.
That's going to help you when it comes time for shot selection and club selection.