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In every set you need to have a specialist club for getting out of bunkers first time. This doesn’t just mean having a high lofted club to get the ball up. Instead, it is crucial to get the right bounce and loft combination in order to give you the best possible chance to get out of trouble and back into play.
To help you decide on the best wedge for better bunker play, we asked Callaway wedge designer Roger Cleveland for his tips on selecting the right club and here are his top 3...
1. Do you play on courses that have soft or hard sand?
If the sand is soft then go for a wedge with a higher bounce angle or one you can open up as doing that also increases the bounce. For instance, you could go for a high bounce 56° wedge or a lower bounce 54° wedge where you can open the face up to increase loft and bounce.
If the sand is firmer then the opposite applies and a wedge with less bounce will enable you to get the leading edge under the ball for a better contact and the sole to interact with the firmer surface to get the ball out.
You can figure this out through trial and error or have a specialist wedge fitting session with a professional so they can advise you on the best level of bounce for your short game and the type of sand in the bunkers of the course you usually play.
2. Choose the Right Loft
The bounce on the sole works with the loft so automatically going for 60 degrees doesn’t mean that will be the easiest to get out of the bunker. It also depends on the type of player you are as lob wedges require a lot of practice. If you don’t have the time for that then maybe a lower loft that you can also use for other shots will make up for that practice time.
Roger says “If you are a strong wedge player then go for a lob wedge with 58° or 60° and then fill in the gap to your set wedge with other wedges in 4° to 5° increments.”
“Otherwise 56° will be enough loft as you can open up the face if required to add more loft, plus you will get enough distance from pitches and fuller shots to have a more useful club in your set. Callaway wedges are easy to bend so you can also increase bounce by adding loft to a wedge, for instance by bending 54° to 55° manage the gap to the next wedge.”
3. Learn to read the lie and use different clubs
If you are playing different types of courses then read the lie of the sand and use one of your higher bounce wedges when the sand is soft, or open the face on your lower bounce wedges.
When it is firmer or there is less sand in the bunker than normal, use a low bounce wedge, maybe even pitching wedge, and play it square.
Roger’s tip is “You won’t have to hit is as hard and stay close to the ball so that you can get under it at impact. This reduces the effective bounce on the sole so you can dig into the firmer surface. As you are hitting down on it more, it will come out lower so allow for that.”
Martin Hopley is one of the foremost UK equipment reviewers with over 20 years' experience. As the former founder of Golfalot.com he was an early pioneer of online reviews and has also been a regular contributor to other titles. He is renowned for his technical knowledge and in-depth analysis, which he now brings to Golf Monthly.
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