Shot Doctor: Bounce, Bounce, Bounce… Don’t Bounce! | Oregon Golf Association

Shot Doctor: Bounce, Bounce, Bounce… Don’t Bounce!

By Mark Keating, Head PGA Golf Professional, OGA Golf Course

Shot Doctor is a new monthly feature that highlights challenges for golfers from all skill levels, solutions to those challenges and practical tips for application on the golf course. This month’s edition briefly explains what it means to have “bounce” in your club and how that is applied to hitting quality shots from green-side bunkers – especially when the bunkers are hard because of rainy conditions.

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You may have heard talk on television broadcasts and elsewhere about learning to use the “bounce” on your wedges. What the heck are they talking about?

The bounce, which varies by club, enables the head of your club to “bounce” out of the sand or rough without snagging. Using a wedge with the right combination of bounce and loft can make a big difference to your short game depending on your swing type and the courses you play most.

In the most technical sense, the bounce on your club determines an angle which shows how much lower the trailing edge of the sole is in relation to the leading edge. 

The Problem Some Golfers Run Into: Their usual shot strategy does not work when bunkers are hard from rain, etc.

When the sand in the bunker is hammered by rain for days and weeks, it compacts into a near cement form. Some bunkers are always like this, but more often than not this occurs during the wet and cold months in our region.

When conditions are ideal, there is a different strategy for playing bunker shots from soft, granular sand. That strategy includes hitting well behind the ball with a “splash” depth as much as two or more inches. A wedge with standard or high bounce is suited for these types of fluffy-bunker conditions.

But when the sand is compact, the bounce works too well and the blade of the club ricochets off the hard-packed sand and into the ball, producing a series of events that you would rather not be involved in (i.e. blading a ball over the green).

The width of the club’s sole is another component which adds difficulty in hitting shots from hard, wet bunkers. The wider the sole, the more “bouncing” it can produce.

One Solution for Rainy, Hard-Packed Bunkers (My Fellow PGA Pros Might Offer Others):  Equip yourself with a low-bounce “blade model” pitching wedge. You can likely find one at a second-hand store or in the $5.00 bin at your local golf course.

Low-bounce wedges are ideal for shots from tight lies and firm turf/sand conditions. The combination of less bounce and narrower sole-width will naturally lower the leading edge of the blade on your wedge to promote clean contact.

If you were to use this type of club (pictured here), the leading edge will not rebound into the ball at near the rate the regular sand wedge would.

How Do I Hit the Shot? (VIDEO DEMONSTRATION BELOW): Your approach to the shot won’t change too much. The main difference is that your low-bounce wedge will enter the sand closer to the ball (about one inch behind it). This is different from that of your normal bunker swing motion (four-to-five inches behind it).

If your shot is executed properly, the depth of the splash will not be much more than ¾ of an inch, starting maybe one inch behind the ball and extending well past it. In a fluffy bunker, that splash could be as deep as two or more inches.

Don’t be surprised when you see very little sand moving after contact. There will be enough sand to cushion the blow and slow the ball down – although the ball may roll a bit more than usual so plan accordingly.

A standard pitching wedge loft should get you out of 90 percent of the bunkers you face in this area.

You may want to give this shot a couple of test drives before your next friendly competition. Once you become more comfortable, you can fiddle with opening the clubface and add various new shots to your arsenal.

Want to learn more tips like this? There are hundreds of PGA Golf Professionals throughout our region who can help improve your game, show you some new tricks and practical applications on the course. Click here to find a Head PGA Professional near you.
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