Thursday, August 9, 2012
Green Side Bunker: Variations
We can face a wide variety of conditions in a green side bunker. Whether it's the sand, the specific lie or the level of the ball related to the feet, the conditions are endless. The ball can decide to lodge in the face of the bunker, maybe under the lip. Or, on the edge of the bunker raising the question as to whether it's in or out of the hazard line. A green side bunker is treated as a hazard with the distinct restriction of not allowing the golfer to ground the club at address. As I have described in a different post, you probably either love them or hate them.
Packed sand requires the club face to be LESS open and a smaller swing is required to reduce club head speed. Often, simply shortening the follow through will accomplish the slower club head speed. Impact with the sand is relatively closer to the ball. Maybe one to two inches.
Fluffy sand requires the club face to be MORE open and a longer swing is required to increase club head speed. In this case, simply lengthening the follow through will accomplish the faster club head speed needed. Impact with the sand is relatively further behind the ball. Maybe three to five inches.
The challenge with unlevel lies is positioning the stance to follow the terrain while keeping good balance. Remember that the weight needs to be toward the target on level ground. How is this affected when you are faced with uphill or downhill terrain, or the ball is above or below your feet? And, how will the terrain affect the movement during the swing? Gravity is typically working against us. Or is some cases we are working against it.
UPWARD SLOPE (incline toward the target)
If the ball sits on an upward slope toward the target the tendency is to fall back away from the target. The trick is to keep the weight toward the target in the same relation as if on level ground. There needs to be some effort to remain on the front foot while staying level to the terrain. On an upward slope the ball will tend to come out with more loft and pull to the left (for a right handed golfer). Therefore, a little harder swing and less open stance is required.
DOWNWARD SLOPE (decline toward the target)
On a downward slope we have to hold back the forward drive because we naturally want to fall down the hill toward the target. However, on a downward slop, stability is more important because we need the weight moving toward the target anyway. Because of the slope the sot will come out lower. More loft is accomplished by opening the stance and club face slightly. But keep in mind that the ball will tend to push toward the right (for a right handed golfer). Any change in the body alignment or club face should be done in small increments.
BALL BELOW THE FEET
When the ball is above or below the feet the lateral movement is not the issue. The weight, as described for level terrain, is the same. Toward the target. Now the issue is our ability to manage a swing that keeps our head level with the ground. When the ball is below our feet we must find a stance that positions us lower. And because the ball will push toward the right (for a right handed golfer) positioning the entire set up toward the left will help off set the direction. This includes a combination of bending the knees and upper body to strike the sand with the bottom of the club. Also holding the club at the end of the grip will add some length. The tendency is to stand up hitting the ball thin. so we need to get down there and hold the posture through impact.
BALL ABOVE THE FEET
When the ball is above the feet our posture should be slightly taller. We still need to get into an athletic position, but with less bend. Depending on the severity we usually need to choke down on the club more, making the club shorter. It is important to note that when the ball is above the feet the flight of the ball is usually that of a pull shot. Positioning the set up toward the right (for a right handed golfer) will help off set the direction.