Base your play on these five factors to get out of deep bunkers
Deep bunkers of course have an intimidation factor – and sometimes it’s so strong the club golfer is beaten before they even step down into the sand. But when you face the shot with a clear strategy in place, your confidence is lifted.
A sound plan gives your action purpose and positivity, two things you’ll definitely need if you are to escape first time. So the next time you find yourself face- to- face with an uncompromising lip, base your play on these five factors; you’ll make a much more committed swing as a result.
This tip comes from TG Top 50 coach Gareth Johnston, PGA Professional and Director of Golf at Calcot Park, Berkshire
#1: Three is great!
Of course we are always going to want to save par from any greenside location; but trying to get cute from here can lead to some big numbers. On the PGA Tour, even the very best in the world get down in two only 60% of the time… and most of those will be from easier situations than this. So remind yourself that anywhere on the green and two putts is a perfectly acceptable outcome; if you should happen to get it close, that’s a bonus.
#2: Lip reading
Bunker lips are rarely a uniform height; as in this case, there will be peaks and lower, more friendly areas. If one of those peaks happens to fall on the perfect line to the hole, that doesn’t mean you have take it on. Remember, three from here is a sound result; quite often, an easier escape over a lower section of lip can make more sense, even if it takes you on a bit of a tangent.
#3: Right lie
With any bunker shot the lie of the ball should dictate your ambition; but with a high lip in front of you, it’s even more important to factor it in. If the ball is nestled you will have to dig deeper to get the club under the ball; that can mean the ball coming out lower, which prompts a safer line. A clean lie allows more optimism and ambition, though also check your stance is at least level.
#4: The far side
When the base of the trap is so far below the level of the green, even a successful escape will see the ball hit the ground low and running. If you get too much heat into the ball, it can run off the other side of the green. It makes sense to pick a line that leaves the ball in reasonable shape should this happen; there’s no point taking the pin on if there’s an equally deep bunker lurking on the far side of it.
#5: Slope rating
Because the ball comes out low and running, its path will be governed more by the green swales than with a regular shot. Spend some extra time reading the green; look especially for any slopes that might take the ball towards the hole from a safer escape line. Always take into account that putting up the hill is easier than down; if you can leave yourself 12-15ft back up the hill for par, that’s a great result.