Our high handicapper hits a superb fairway iron towards the green, best iron shot ever! Boy, is he proud. Hang on… Oh no, the ball is in a green side bunker! It’s time for the sand wedge… but how to play the shot. Tour pros seem to play out of bunkers with effortless ease. How? They have practiced, practiced and practiced.
What is a Sand Wedge?
A sand wedge or sand iron is an open faced golf club, primarily designed for getting out of sand bunkers. It is a specialized club designed for specialized use. It has the widest sole of any wedge, giving the greatest amount of bounce, allowing the club to slide through the sand and not dig in.
The sand wedge is often the heaviest iron in the golf bag, most weighing 40 ounces. It has the second highest loft at 56 degrees, the lob wedge has a higher loft.
How To Play Out of a Bunker Using a Sand Wedge
Here are the simple rules for hitting your ball out of a bunker using the sand wedge.
Adopt your usual stance with the ball forward of center and a little more weight on your front foot and dig your feet into the sand to get a solid stance. The ball is slightly forward in your stance because the base of the wedge needs to impact the sand behind the ball. The club shaft should be vertical. Make a slow half backswing, then on the downstroke, strike the sand about two inches behind the ball, lifting then throwing the sand out of the bunker. Out pops your ball.
Butch Harmon says that one of the most common mistakes is opening the face of the club after gripping the club. Chatting to Ricky Fowler, his advice is to open the face a little, before you take your grip, so that your normal stance is not skewed.
Check out the video below for yourself!
Now, you need to do something that most high handicappers don’t do. Get down to the course an hour before your tee off time, grab your sand wedge and climb into that practice bunker. Take your time, relax and hit a dozen shots towards the practice flag. The last few shots should see real improvement as you learn and understand the process.
Do not decelerate during the swing, you must follow through.
Remember fairway and greenside bunkers are hazards so you must not touch the bunker sand with your club. If you do, this is called “grounding the club” and incurs a 2-shot penalty or loss of hole in match play.
Remember to rake the sand smooth before leaving the hole for the benefit of the following players. This is considered good etiquette.
If the flag is close to the bunker, then you need to fly the ball high, so place it a little further forward in your stance.
If the flag is further from the bunker, place the ball nearer to the center of your stance, make sure you square the club face on impact and inch behind the ball.
If the ball is plugged, your back and down swings need to be steeper and you must dig the ball out. The leading edge of the club digs into the sand and gets under the ball. Again, don’t decelerate and you must follow through.
Types of Bunker
There are three type of bunker on a golf course and all are designed to be an impediment to the golfer’s progress toward the green. Fairway bunkers are located anywhere on or near the fairway, greenside bunkers are located near and around the green. These two types are deemed to be hazards and hazard rules apply. Waste bunkers are naturally large sandy areas and are not considered as hazards.
Below are 5 of the best sand wedges for high handicappers, we recommend all of these to our readers but the Callaway Mack Daddy is definitely THE best!
Our 5 Sand Wedge Reviews!
The unique new shape, forged of soft 1025c steel, delivers exceptionally satisfying feel and response on every shot. Less offset, a squarer toe and a straighter leading edge create a clean, confidence-inducing appearance at address to promote crisp contact and command control.
Maximum spin comes from the new Mack Daddy 16-groove configuration that incorporates an added groove at the bottom, close to the leading edge, to promote added stopping power, especially on pitches and chips.
The new R sole grind gives Mack Daddy Forged wedges the kind of versatility necessary to play a variety of shots from the types of grasses a Tour pro faces, from the sticky kikuyu of Torrey Pines to the thick rye- and bluegrass of Bethpage Black to the firm, tight turf of St. Andrews. The defined crescent sole and mid bounce makes a broad range of greenside shots easy to play, from square-faced skippers to open-faced flops and everything in between.
As for finish, we’re giving golfers two highly appealing choices: Satin Chrome with a thin copper strike layer that enriches the surface’s appeal and enhances toughness, and Brushed Slate for a raw look.
- Three unique grinds to suit every shot
- S-grind, the most versatile option
- Progressive groove optimization, a 3-groove package milled into the face to optimize spin
Golfers love these wedges, a light feel, a large face
Priority No. 1 for Cleveland engineers was to create wedges that would generate exceptional spin for players, especially out of the rough. To accomplish that goal, three different face technologies were utilized in the design, which allowed Cleveland to reach the USGA maximum in terms of face roughness. The result are wedges that deliver maximum spin on full shots and shots played around the green from all turf and sand conditions.
Additionally, Cleveland is again utilizing its user-friendly dot system to help golfers choose the right wedges for their game. Two-dot wedges are the 588 RTX 2.0 lineaTMs most standard option and will fit the widest variety of players, as they work well from all turf and sand conditions and for golfers with more neutral angles of attack.
For golfers of all ability levels. The key, however, is to explore the dot system and how each model is designed to work. At that point, players can determine which wedges will be the best fit for their bag.
- Deeper grooves, new micro milled Rotex face pattern
- Fourth generation Tour Zip Grooves have larger walls and sharper radii
Very popular wedge, it will help improve your wedge shots immediately. Recommended for novices.
The Wilson Harmonized Golf Wedge comes with aggressive grooves. This feature lets you get the maximum spin that helps to boost your confidence. To talk more about the spin, the blade shape also offers a modified bounce angle to boost its spin. Besides, you will also find the wedge very durable as it uses stainless steel in head construction to prove it high in class and quality. The True Temper steel iron does not only provide necessary control but also offer high performance.
- Traditional style, high polish finish
- The blade comes with a modified bounce angle
- Aggressive grooves for excellent spin
- Stainless steel shaft, 35 inches
Good weight, good balance, cheap club. Excellent grooves, good spin.
The Titleist SM6 wedges, designed by master craftsman Bob Vokey, define the standard for wedge performance with improvements in three key areas: distance gapping, shot versatility, and spin control.
A groundbreaking new Progressive Center of Gravity design, engineered using cutting-edge CAD technology, aligns the center of gravity with the impact position of each loft to produce precise distance and trajectory control while maintaining exceptional feel.
Titleist offers the SM6 wedge with five different grind options. Each grind is a direct result of Mr. Vokey’s experience in fitting players of all skill levels for more than 20 years. Additionally, the 100% inspected Spin Milled TX4 grooves and face texture deliver more spin than ever before (up to 200 rpm more on average) while providing more consistent spin control.
- New spin milled 6 wedges
- Precise distance and trajectory control, progressive center of gravity
- Shot versatility to fit your swing
- More spin from TX4 grooves, new parallel face texture
An awesome club.
This is a great wedge for beginners because of its price and versatility, made for any skill level.
The Pinemeadow wedge comes with 5 loft options, from the lowly 50 to the ultra-high 68, all in 4-degree gaps, which is the optimal spread to cover your yardage (though it somewhat encourages you to carry hybrids, which might not sit well with everyone). It would’ve been nice if they had more options in the lower lofts rather than the somewhat gimmicky 68 loft, but then again, some players may have spent their entire lives looking for it.
This is a unisex wedge and should suit everyone. Granted, it’s a bit heavy for a ladies’ wedge, so it might impair your swing speed, but on the flipside, it does make you develop some upper body strength. In this sense, it could indeed be considered a GI (game-improvement wedge).
The bounce selection is wedge-specific and somewhat poor, to be honest, but overall adequate. What we mean by wedge-specific is that there are four bounce angles to suit the four types of wedges.
- Very reasonable price
- Very forgiving
- High quality steel
- Large face area
Excellent feel, easy and consistent. Very impressive.
The greenside bunker shot is the one shot in golf when you don’t actually hit the ball. You swing the clubhead into the sand behind the ball and lift the ball out with the sand.
You must get a good stance.
Focus on a spot two inches behind the ball.
Swing the club back halfway and down through that spot.
Do not slow down during the swing.
You must follow through, turning your body to face the target.
And practice, practice, practice.