Escaping From 2 Quagmires: Sand and Divot
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
Korea Times Golf Columnist
Upon finding the ball in the sand trap around the green, recreational golfers tend to rush to grab the sand wedge. However, it's always smart to take into consideration all of your options even when you are in the sand, and one of your best choices can be chipping.
There are three conditions to be considered for a chip from the sand: the lie, the height of the lip and the pin location.
First, the ball should be sitting up so you can catch the ball cleanly then take a little sand. Second, the bunker should have a relatively low lip as the chip from the sand features a low trajectory. Third, there should be sufficient space to work with between the flag and the ball as the ball runs a lot upon landing on the green.
The first thing you need to avoid is choosing a club with too much loft. You need to use the least amount of loft possible to carry the ball over the lip.
Next, raise the toe side of the clubhead so the club shaft stands more upright. That rids you of your chance to catch the sand first.
Third, set up with the clubface slightly closed not only to deliver the clubface squarely through impact, but also to reduce sidespin.
Place the ball opposite your right foot with your hands well forward so the butt end of the club points at your left shoulder. Open your stance with the majority of your bodyweight on your left foot and bend from your hips. Keep your elbows bent and flared out from your sides as they would do in your normal putting posture. That way your wrists are fixed.
Swinging the club back, break your wrists a little and take the butt end of the club and the clubface together away from the ball, returning them to the ball equally together. It's essential to keep your bodyweight on your left foot during the entire swing and keep the spine angle intact until well after impact. It's hard to catch the ball first, unless you maintain your spine angle created at the address.
To check to see if you are setting up the correct distance from the ball, take your normal address, then drop your right hand off the club so it is hung naturally from the shoulder. It should stay directly in line with its previous position on the club.
Your hand moving closer to your body means you are standing too far from the ball and your hand moving away from your body means you are standing too close to the ball.
Another quagmire that is hard to avoid or escape from during a round of golf is a ball resting in a divot, which tends to induce average golfers to scoop it. However, attempting to scoop it will bring about the worst result. As with a normal shot, allowing the clubhead to come ahead of the hands at impact invites disaster. Trying to scoop it leads to skulls or drop-kicks.
For a successful result, you need to hit it with a sharp descending blow; toward this end, it's essential to play the ball back in your stance. Also crucial here is to lean left with more bodyweight on your left foot, which sets up a good foundation for a steeper swing plane promoting a sharp downward blow.
The ball will come out lower and roll a lot when it lands.