Old School Rescue

Use your sand wedge to escape all kinds of greenside lies

What a bad break: My ball is sitting down in the rough. While it can be a real challenge to make solid contact with this lie, it isn’t impossible. What you need are a few key elements, including how to use the design of your sand wedge. In the upper-right-hand photo, I’m pointing to its bounce. All sand wedges have a bounce angle, which is measured between the club’s leading edge and the little “bump” I’m pointing to. More bounce is better for softer conditions, and less bounce works on firmer surfaces. For more on how to utilize bounce, see my tip below.

To escape gnarly rough and get your ball safely onto the green, you sometimes have to take a big chop at the ball. And to do that, you need to learn how to use your sand wedge’s bounce.

Make an upright backswing and remain steep during your downswing. My club is parallel to the ground and continues on its steep descent. FINISH LOW WITH FACE OPEN

Open your clubface wide so the back edge or bounce is on the ground. This helps prevent the club from digging into the ground after your steep descending swing. From there, firm up your grip and make a steep swing so that your club shaft is nearly vertical to the ground. A swing that’s too flat won’t be able to cut through the grass. Also, without a firm grip, your clubface will get caught in the grass and turn over. This leads to low, left shots rather than higher, softer ones. In particular, keep your left hand firm so the clubface stays exactly how you want it.

If your ball comes to rest against the collar of the greenside rough, it can make for a really tricky chip. It’s hard to make solid contact, so the best thing to do is to actually blade it with the leading edge of your sand wedge. To pull this off, place the ball forward in your stance, just opposite your left heel. Moving it ahead in your stance ensures that your club won’t be descending and hitting down on the ball, but rather ascending and making contact at the ball’s equator or just above it. This generates topspin so the ball rolls smoothly, like a putt, and onto the green.

In addition to forward ball placement, grip your sand wedge like your putter and make a pendulum-like putting motion with your arms and shoulders. Hover the club just above the grass so you don’t dig down into the turf and let the head sweep through the shot. Definitely practice this one a few times before you try it on the course so you know how the ball will come out.

Jeff Yurkiewicz, PGA, is the head golf instructor at the Grayhawk Learning Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. To learn more and to book a lesson, visit grayhawkgolf.com.



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