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The Basic Sand Approach

By: Bob Burns

Golf Professional

One of the most troublesome shots in the game of golf for the average player is from the sand trap. The golfer generally has a difficult time getting out with a consistency. 

Confidence in one's ability to successfully escape a trap plays a major part of the shot. Confidence, however, may be endangered by lack of knowledge of two important things: how to play the individual shot and which club to use. 

Let's discuss the club first: The golfer should have sand wedge, which as a wide flange on its bottom edge. The flange gives the club "bounce" and is designed to keep the club from cutting too deep into the sand. Its construction will cause the club to slap the sand and "splash" the ball on to the green with very little effort on the golfer's part. 

Execution for the Basic Sand Shot

First of all, take a stance so that the ball rests opposite the left heel. The left foot is drawn back only slightly more than the right from the intended line of flight, so that the stance is a little open. Wiggle the feet into the sand to provide a firm base for the swing. 

Before actually starting the swing, take sight on the shot behind where the club head is to strike. If the sand is normal, try to hit about two inches behind the ball. The reason for hitting this far behind the ball is that, if the contact were closer, the wedge might bounce into the ball causing a skulled shot. Hitting the ball farther back assures getting the club head under the ball. 

Keep most of the weight on the left side for the actual swing. Pick up the club head quickly by immediately cocking the wrists. The club head will initially move outside of the target line and then back to the inside with the turning of the shoulders. Pull the club head through the sand with the left hand. Don't look up until you hear the ball thump onto the green; then you will be assured of keeping your head down and getting the ball out. The distance your sand shot will travel depends on three factors. The first is the same one that comes into play with all shots, the speed at which you swing your arms forward. The second is the amount of sand that your club head displaces before the ball starts on its way. The less sand displaced, the farther the ball travels. The third factor is the condition and texture of the sand. 

When you anticipate a large displacement of sand on shot from buried lies, uphill lies, or soft sand, you will need more arm speed than normal. When you anticipate displacing less sand on downhill lies, and from coarse, wet, or otherwise firm sand, you will need less arm speed. 

You can vary the depth of your cut of sand by setting your hands to the left or right of the normal address position. Setting your hands slightly to the right of normal turns the leading edge a bit upward, thus the club head will skim off a relatively shallow slice of sand.

By positioning your hands slightly to the left of normal, it turns the leading edge of the club head downward. This will cause the club to enter the sand at a sharper angle and thus cut deeper. The deeper the cut of sand, the more sand displaced; the more sand displaced, the less the shot will fly.

The texture of the sand also affects the depth of the cut. The club head will cut deeper into soft, fine-grained sand than it will into coarse or wet sand. 

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