EPIC BUNKER FAILS By Glenn Deck, PGA
If you don't like greenside bunkers and you're trying to help the ball get up over the bunker lip, here's a fix for you. The first step is to simplify your bunker setup and eliminate being too open in your stance or having the clubface too open. I want you to use your normal pitch shot except you'll use the bounce in your clubhead and swing like your ball is in greenside rough.
FIX #1: Set up so you're aiming directly at the target and open the face so the bottom scoring lines aim at your left ankle to create a little bounce. Work your feet into the sand a half-inch so you have a shallow divot in the sand. Line up at your target and swing the club at your target to throw the sand on the green and forget about the open face! If you open your body and clubface too much, you'll tend to swing the club back too far to the inside, creating a lot of problems. Instead, keep your focus on hitting a spot of sand two inches behind the ball and swing down and through. Too often, I see players open up their body too much to the left and open the face too much to the right, which makes the shot much more difficult. Instead, hit a "heavy pitch" and swing aggressively right at the target.
FIX #2: Change your distance thought; if you have a 15-yard bunker shot, you need a 45-yard swing. Yes, multiply the distance you need to hit by three to offset the cushion of sand between the clubface and ball. If you're playing in a firm or wet bunker, double the distance; if you're in soft powder sand, multiply the distance by four. Learn to make the practice swing outside the bunker before you walk into the bunker, so on most 20-yard bunker shots, make a 60-yard practice swing, then walk into the bunker, take your setup and go with the same feel.If you're really serious about shooting some lower scores this year, ditch the practice tee once in a while and hone in on your short game. Even with good swing mechanics, and sometimes perfect execution, you're going to find yourself missing a few (sometimes a lot of) greens. Factors such as club selection, weather, elevation changes or green layouts and pin placements all affect our ability to knock it stiff, even on days when everything feels just right.
This year, wedge customization is popular, and rightfully so. Getting the custom look, feel, bounce, loft, etc., is crucial for becoming more proficient with short shots. Have a look at some of our favorite wedges for 2014. Total Versatility Callaway Golf Mack Daddy 2
Key Features: A versatile Tour-proven design that generates lots of spin. Aggressive, large grooves plus increased surface roughness help enhance spin. Wow Factor: Outstanding, clean-looking wedges that can be tailored to your swing. They feel buttery at impact, as well. Definitely consider them. Specs: Available in various lofts between 47_¡ and 64_¡ with several bounce options, in two grinds and two finishes, with choice of shaft length and model, lie angle, grip model and wrap. callawaygolf.com | $150 Cleveland Golf 588 RTX CB
Key Features: Generates tight backspin due to the large U-shaped face grooves that are especially effective from rough, sand and wet grass. Surface roughness is laser-milled into the clubface in a pattern that also induces spin. The sole is wider near the heel, narrower near the toe, to improve bunker performance without sacrificing versatility. An undercut cavity promotes perimeter weighting for more forgiveness on off-center hits. Wow Factor: If there are any other wedges as easy to hit as these, please identify yourself. Specs: Eight lofts from 46_¡ to 60_¡ in a Satin Chrome or Black Pearl finish, with a True Temper Dynamic Gold shaft (LH available). clevelandgolf.com | $120 Edel Golf Signature Series
Key Features: Each wedge in the series can be customized with a golfer's preferred lofts, grinds, paint-fill colors and stampings. For added measure, even the shaft band sticker can be personalized. Wow Factor: This company makes a great wedge, and these models look absolutely terrific. If Edel is a new brand to you, consider this a heads up. The company is on the way up. Way, way up. Specs: You can get each wedge customized to any specs you want. edelgolf.com | $179 Fourteen Golf DJ-11
Key Features: The wide sole and semi-offset neck of this forged nickel-chrome molybdenum bronze clubhead help ease setting up at address. Its reverse-taper blade and wide sole mean fewer mis-hits. An indentation structure evenly distributes clubhead weight. Trapezoidal grooves translate to high spin. Wow Factor: We found it to create nice spin performance and consistency around the green. Specs: Available in lofts of 48_¡, 50_¡, 52_¡, 54_¡, 56_¡, 58_¡ and 60, with a True Temper Dynamic Gold or Nippon N.S.Pro 950GH HT steel shaft. fourteengolf.com | $250 Hopkins Golf CJ-1
Key Features: Made of soft carbon steel, these are raw so they'll rust for even softer feel over time. Grooves plus a face-milled pattern maximize surface roughness for more spin. Six sole grinds are offered. Oh, and if it matters, Champions Tour players are eating them up. Wow Factor: These can be personalized in many ways, including custom shafts, grips and paint-fill colors. They feel soft and perform with precision–what's not to like? Nothing! Specs: Available in loft/bounce options of 50_¡-8_¡, 52_¡-8_¡, 54_¡-12_¡, 56_¡-14_¡, 58_¡-12_¡, 60_¡-12_¡ and wide-sole 60_¡-8_¡ with a Hopkins Golf OTM steel shaft. hopkinsgolf.com | $99Miura K-Grind
Key Features: There are two new lofts (52_¡ and 60_¡) in addition to the original 56_¡. A distinctive fluted sole helps interaction with turf at impact, allowing it to be more versatile in more situations. Wow Factor: It looks plain great, and it's very playable however you use it. Open the clubface of the 60_¡ model and it slices effortlessly through sand. The extra two lofts collectively make this a great wedge set to own if you can afford it. Specs: Available in loft/bounce options of 52_¡-7_¡, 56_¡-12_¡ and 60_¡-13_¡. miura.com | $275 Mizuno JPX Series
Key Features: A large face, wide sole and subtle relief in the heel and toe make this wedge versatile. The groove shape–deep and narrow in lower lofts, wide and shallow in higher lofts–and a milled face translate to optimal spin control. Wow Factor: The feel is outstanding, the shaping is even better. Smooth lines, great look at address. Specs: Available in loft/bounce options, in both right- and left-handed models, of 50_¡-6_¡, 52_¡-8_¡, 54_¡-10_¡, 56_¡-10_¡, 56_¡-14_¡, 58_¡-10_¡, 58_¡-14_¡, 60_¡-5_¡ and 60_¡-9_¡, with an XP 105 steel or a Fujikura Orochi graphite shaft. mizunogolf.com | $125/graphite shaft, $100/steel Titleist by Vokey WedgeWorks
Key Features: These are custom wedges by renowned wedge maker Bob Vokey or one of his craftsmen, who will even laser-etch your name directly into the shaft. Wow Factor: Getting a wedge customized to your swing is awesome. Getting a customized Vokey is on a whole other level of cool. Specs: Available in several 58_¡ or 60_¡ models, with grinds and customization options previously reserved for Tour pros only. vokey.com | $Varied
Bladed Wedge Shot The trick for this shot is simple. You want to catch the ball at or near its equator with the leading edge of the wedge. Play the ball back in your stance and make a low-swinging stroke. Don't lift the club, as you actually want to blade it thin and get the ball rolling! This shot is a lot easier than trying to putt from against the fringe. Try it! Feel & Forgiveness Cobra Golf Tour Trusty
Key Features: A compact, non-offset shape, as well as two cut depths on the face, help max out surface roughness, while wide grooves enhance spin. Available in a matte satin or matte black PVD finish. Wow Factor: We like the "notch K-Grind" that provides heel and toe relief, which makes them more versatile around the green. Specs: Available in loft/bounce options, in right- and left-handed models, of 48_¡-8_¡, 50_¡-8_¡, 52_¡-8_¡, 54_¡-10_¡, 56_¡-12_¡, 56_¡-8_¡, 58_¡-8_¡, 60_¡-10_¡, 60_¡-6_¡, 62_¡-8_¡ and 64_¡-8_¡, with a True Temper Dynamic Gold S200 shaft. cobragolf.com | $119 Nike VR X3X
Key Features: Comes in two flavors. The Toe Sweep model features a wide toe area, plus dramatic heel relief that allows an open clubface at address. The Dual Wide Sole model is versatile and has a C-shaped sole. Both are forged from soft carbon steel and boast X3X grooves that boost spin consistency. Wow Factor: Nike has historically put out very playable wedges and believe these new models only enhance the user experience. They're easy to hit and stop the ball nicely. Specs: The Toe Sweep is available in right-handed lofts of 56_¡, 58_¡ and 60_¡, left-handed lofts of 56_¡ and 60_¡, the Dual Wide Sole in right-handed lofts of 52_¡, 56_¡, 58_¡ and 60_¡, with a True Temper Dynamic Gold shaft and Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grip. nikegolf.com | $110 Orlimar Tour Groove
Key Features: Forged from soft carbon steel, it has a traditional teardrop shape, USGA-conforming grooves and a brushed satin finish that reduces glare. Wow Factor: We're all over the clean lines and substantial look of this wedge. It feels nice and soft, and generates ample spin. Specs: Available in right-handed loft/bounce options of 52_¡-8_¡, 56_¡-12_¡ and 60_¡-6_¡, with a True Temper Dynamic Gold shaft. orlimar.com | $99 Ping Tour
Key Features: A soft stainless-steel clubhead has three sole width options–thin (TS) for firm conditions and shallow approaches, standard (SS) for all playing conditions, and wide (WS) for hitting from softer sand and turf–that lend versatility from any lie. Precision-milled "Gorge" face grooves hold tight manufacturing tolerances to help maximize backspin. The traditional head shape features a custom tuning port in the cavity, which increases MOI and contributes to a solid feel across the clubface. Wow Factor: Plain awesome, with respect to looks, feel and performance. Specs: Available in 47_¡ (SS), 50_¡ (SS), 52_¡ (SS), 54_¡ (SS, WS), 56_¡ (SS, WS), 58_¡ (SS, WS, TS) and 60_¡ (SS, WS, TS), with a PING CFS or PING TFC169i shaft. ping.com | $140 - $167.50 Ping EYE2 XG
Key Features: The beloved EYE2 wedge is still available (we can't let it go, either), with conforming grooves and a precision-milled face. Ironically, this forgiving wedge is still being used by Tour players. Wow Factor: Yes, that's right. Tour players love this wedge because it's crazy-forgiving and the sole design allows for a huge variety of shots around the green. Sometimes what works keeps working, no matter how old the design. Case in point, this very wedge. Specs: Comes in 56_¡ and 60_¡ models, with a variety of steel and graphite shaft options. ping.com | $119 Taylormade Tour Preferred
Key Features: Two sole options, including the ATV (All-Terrain Versatility) sole for...wait for it...more versatility! This allows for a variety of shots regardless of the course conditions and swing type. In a satin-chrome finish, mind you. It's like a sports car with big, knobby tires that can handle all kinds of terrain. The microtexture face helps optimize spin and greenside performance. Wow Factor: TaylorMade wedges with ATV have generally been received well by golfers, who find them versatile from any lie. We like that you can open up the face as needed, and always seem to have the right bounce angle for the task at hand. Specs: Available in loft/bounce options of 50_¡-9_¡ for right-handed only, as well as 52_¡-9_¡, 54_¡-11_¡, 56_¡-12_¡, 58_¡-10_¡ and 60_¡-10_¡ in right- and left-handed models. taylormadegolf.com | $130 Tour Edge Exotics CD PROs
Key Features: Forged from soft carbon steel for good feedback. Aggressive square-style grooves lend plenty of control, while the beveled sole eliminates bounce from the heel and toe, giving you versatility from most lies. Wow Factor: It has a nice, classic shape, which we like for hitting most scoring shots. The sole shape makes this an effective weapon from thick and thin turf. Specs: Available in loft/bounce options of 50_¡-10_¡, 52_¡-12_¡, 54_¡-14_¡, 56_¡-14_¡ and 60_¡-14_¡, with a True Temper Dynamic Gold shaft. touredge.com | $119/graphite, $99/steel Wilson Staff FG Tour TC Black
Key Features: Traction Control technology enhances spin on long and partial shots in the form of aggressive Tour-Y grooves that are milled for consistency and enhance spin on full swings, with micro-spin enhancers–sets of 11 laser-etched lines between each groove–that increase spin on partial swings. There are two sole options: Traditional has optimal width and camber for golfers with medium to steep swings, and Tour Grind is thinner for players with medium to shallow swings. Wow Factor: Attractive black, non-glare finish and sleek shaping. A fantastic value. Specs: Two sole options and nine different loft/bounce combinations mean 35 possible loft/bounce/sole configurations, with a True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shaft. wilsonstaff.com | $100 Flop Shot Hitting a successful flop shot can sometimes be as gratifying as hitting a big drive or sinking a long putt. But many golfers are too reluctant to try one, thinking it's a shot that only better players can execute.
The reality is, yes, a flop shot requires more touch than, say, a simple chip or pitch does. But it's not impossible! The trick is employing a technique that I've seen many good players doing as of late. Before this, many golfers would attempt to hold the face open through the flop shot, hoping to slide the club precisely under the ball and hope to not hit it fat or thin. This technique has a lot of room for error, often resulting in more not-so-good shots than well-executed ones.
So what's the best way to do it? First, I want you to set up as you would a normal flop shot. Play the ball front-center in your stance, with the shaft vertical and your weight slightly favoring your left side. (This will steepen your swing for crisper contact.) Next, lay the face wide open behind the ball. From here, I don't want you to try and keep the face open! Hit a normal shot, allowing the wrists to hinge and rotate going back, unhinge at impact, and, again, hinge and rotate through the followthrough.
Because the clubface was laid considerably open at address, you allow the hands to rotate the clubface as you would with a normal shot and still expect the ball to have plenty of upward trajectory. As you practice this shot, it's important to experiment with what setup face angle works best for you, and always remember to both rotate the body and accelerate through the shot. Any tentativeness when hitting flop shots will likely produce a bad result. Total Forgiveness Black Magic Golf Black Magic Wedge
Key Features: A unique hybrid design–the hosel is attached to the clubhead body and not the clubface–that eliminates shanked shots and makes it a cinch to extricate the ball from the sand. No need to hit behind the ball and dig into the sand before the ball. Wow Factor: We're amazed at how picking the ball clean is so freakin' easy with this wedge, especially in the rough and sand. Specs: Four lofts (48_¡, 52_¡, 56_¡, 60_¡) in a steel shaft. blackmagicgolf.com | $99 Cleveland Golf Smart Sole
Key Features: This two-wedge system includes an S model for easy bunker escapes and a C model for consistent greenside chips. Cleveland's widest wedge sole helps prevent excess digging in both turf and sand, promoting solid contact from every lie. Wow Factor: We love these chippers intended for all skill levels. Regardless of how consistent or otherwis