A sand trap can be described as an artificial hazard found on a golf course consisting of a depression filled with sand. Because of the sand, it is not always easy to get the ball out unless you become really good at it. Some people might need more practice before they can get out of the sand trap easily. Today, we want to look at how to get out of the sand trap every time.
Differences Between a Bunker and a Sand Trap
When you talk to your friends about golf, you might find them talking about sand traps and bunkers. Some people might be confused about the difference between the two. It is common for some people to interchange the two.
So, what is the difference between the two?
A sand trap is simply a bunker filled with sand and thus is can still be called a bunker. On the other hand, a bunker does not have to be filled with sand. So, it cannot be called a sand trap.
A common difference between a sand trap and bunker is the design. A sand trap is man-made and must be filled with sand. The bunker is still a depression just like a sand trap but it can be filled with other materials. Such materials can be pine needles, long grass, gravel, dirt, and much more. A bunker can also be naturally occurring, but a sand trap is always man-made.
Considering that sand traps are manmade, they will be placed strategically on the golf course. The aim is to make the game more difficult as the golfers would try to avoid sand traps. Bunkers can be natural, so their location can be random even if it occurs 200 yards away from the green.
Rules for playing the two
A sand trap is seen as a hazard by the golfers. Because of this, there are several rules that must be followed when hitting the ball out of a hazard. For a ball that falls into a bunker not filled with sand, then the sand trap rules do not apply.
Why Sand Traps and Bunkers are Present on Golf Courses
Sand traps or as sometimes called bunkers can be a nightmare for some golfers. Not many love them because of the skills they need to get the balls out of the depressions.
Most bunkers are natural as compared to sand traps. Each time a golf course is designed, the architect would focus on maximizing the use of the naturally occurring bunkers and possible locations for manmade sand traps.
The sand traps will vary from one course to another. Some might be shallow while others deep. When the sand becomes compact, then it would also affect the depth of a sand trap. The same applies to wet sand. The usual depth is about 2 inches. The golf courses try to keep the sand traps within this depth to avoid the golf ball from going too deep into the sand. At least you can now have a better escape shot from the sand trap.
Ending up in sand trap is always frustrating even for a professional golfer. Why should such a depression filled with sand be so depressing to golfers? Well, it comes down to the lack of technique and practice for taking shots in a sand trap. It is not always the easiest shot, but with practice you can get better.
Important Tips for Getting Out of a Sand Trap
Every professional golfer knows that you can never avoid a sand trap forever. Some are strategically placed to make the course more challenging. The important thing is to know how to get out of one every time. Below are some tips that should get you started.
Get yourself the right club
To make a great shot out of the sand trap involves getting the right club for the job. You should make this decision based on how you are positioned based on the green. The high loft wedge is recommended if there is a small amount of green between you and the hole. If there is more green to deal with, then a lower loft wedge can be good too. The aim is to get the ball out and closer to the hole as much as possible.
The right set up
Since you are to stand on sand, it is important that you have a solid base. Set up your feet correctly so that you have the right balance. With a proper set up, you have a better trajectory of the ball. Depending on the location of the ball, you might have to hit a lower or high trajectory shot.
The distribution of your weight might also be an important consideration. It is recommended that you shift 80% of your weight to be on the front foot and 20% on the back foot. Having the right distribution of weight can help create a nice splash in the sand. You should avoid shifting your weight too much as you would do when taking a normal swing.
The right grip
How you grip the club can determine if you will have a good shot or not. You should approach your shot with a weak grip and soft arms. Well, a weak grip does not mean you hold the club with less pressure. It means that you will have an early release of the hinge in the wrists. With this technique, the ball will go higher and stop faster on the green. You want the first shot to be ideal to get you out of the sand trap easily.
Take the right swing
Now that you are good with the setup, what follows is to take the swing. For the swing, it is important to adopt the outside-in pattern with a slight bend on the wrist. How far to bring the club back will depend on the distance you want the ball to move. The swing pattern described above will help achieve the right ball loft and get the ball out of the sand trap.
The follow through
Since you are not moving your weight back and forth as you would do in a normal shot, there is the need to pay extra attention to the follow through. For sand trap shots, it is recommended that you stay down for longer before making a nice follow through. You might notice that you will be pulling some sand with the shot. Do not worry as that is expected for a better shot to clear the ball out of the sand trap.
Having the right mindset while playing golf can help you get better at the game. The same applies when going for a sand trap shot. When you approach the shot with a lot of frustration and doubt, making the best shot will not be possible. You should always approach the shots with confidence. Get a clear vision of where you want the ball to go, relax, and take your shot.
Practice is key
To become better at something, you need practice. You can be sure to get better at sand trap shots once you take a couple of them. You should understand that hitting into the sand is simply inevitable. Giving yourself regular practice shots in the sand trap should help you get better at the game. After a couple of shots, you will notice that you no longer have frustrations with your sand trap shots.
Why Should You Use Sand Wedges Over the Other Wedges?
A sand wedge will be the ideal club for you to use for getting out of sand traps. It is right there in the name, so you should consider having it in your cart always as you never know when you might need it. The sand wedge comes with the widest sole important for providing the best bounce when you hit the ball. The wedge is also great for gliding through the sand and avoid digging in.
If you understand how to take the shot correctly, a sand wedge will always get you out of the sand trap whenever you use it.
Other than using it in the sand traps, a sand wedge can still be great in other soft lies. Such includes a soggy ground, mud, and firmer grass lies.
Tips for Buying a Sand Wedge
When buying a sand wedge, there are several considerations to keep in mind. Most of them revolve around the condition of the sand. For a shallow sand condition, It is best if you pick a sand wedge with a shallower sole. It should also have a moderate bounce angle from 7 to 11 degrees.
When you have to deal with a grainy and loose sand, you will need a wedge to have more bounce angle of 12 to 15 degrees. A wider sole is also necessary and more swing weight from D-5 to E-0.
Powdery sands will need that you get a wedge with a more bounce angle. The recommended angle is from 16 to 20 degrees. The sole has to be wider and a heavier weight ranging from D-7 to E-2.
So, will you need to have a different wedge for each course? What if you change the course? Because of such inconveniences, it is best to get a well-rounded wedge. Such will have a medium to wide sole, a swing weight of D-5 to E-0 and a moderate bounce ranging from 12 to 15 degrees.
Types of Sand Trap Shots You Can Make
Sand traps will have varying degrees of challenges when taking the shots. It comes down to the location, design, and if the sand is wet or firm. Let us look at some of the scenarios you are likely to face.
Firm or Wet sand shot
It is likely that you might experience firm or wet sand when playing golf. This type of sand makes the golf ball to sit higher in the sand. The sand at this point is hard to swing through. This means that you will need a good club selection. The club needs to have less bounce. The aim is not to dig too deep into the sand. When taking the shot, make sure you have the right contact with the ball to send it out of the sand trap without digging into the sand too much.
Here is a video with more details on taking this shot.
Uphill lie shot
Taking a shot uphill might come out as challenging, but you will not have to change a lot of things to accomplish it. The first thing you have to notice is that more weight will be shifted onto the back foot. Do not worry about it as it is normal. Wiggle those feet into the sand to get the right stance. Align your upper body to be at 90 degrees to the slope. The swing that you make should be aggressive enough so that you can go through the sand and send the ball up and out.
Downhill lie shot
The downhill shots out of a sand trap might not be the most fun for many people. You will have to keep the shoulders parallel to the slope surface. It is easy to see some golfers leaning forward to get a better stance before hitting the ball. For this shot, consider getting a club with the highest loft. The reason is that you want the ball to get into the air as high and quick as possible. A 60-degree wedge should work fine for this shot.
Plugged ball shot
Plugged in this case means that half or more of the ball is buried into the sand. Some players refer it to as a fried egg shot. It can be a little daunting to deal with this shot because of how deep the ball is buried into the sand.
The right club for this shot is the sand edge. You could use a lob wedge with a bit of practice. As for the swing, it has to come at a steep angle towards the ball to really dig it up out of the sand. You should end up with a bit of sand in the air, but that should not worry you.
Sand traps are no fun, but it does not mean you cannot conquer them. As much as they can be tough on a golfer, with more practice, you can be good at getting out of them all the time. You can take some additional lessons on taking sand trap shots to get better. Lessons are only half the journey as you still need the right club to do the job. Get all the necessary clubs you might need for playing on a course with challenging sand traps.