Let the sand determine the club to hit out of a bunker

Golf professional Daril Pacinella is a certified Titleist Fitness Instructor and is director of instruction at his golf academy at Longhi’s Golf Facility in Southwick, Mass. His web site is www.darilpacinellagolfacademy.com. He has been a golf pro for more than 30 years and was chosen Golf Magazine’s Top 100 instructors in America.

Daril’s weekly question and answer segment will appear each Thursday at www.masslive.com/golf. Submit your questions to pgabear@aol.com. If your question is answered on MassLive.com, you will receive a free round of golf at Longhi’s Golf Facility, compliments of Jim Longhi.

Hi Daril,

Just last week I found myself in a bunker where the sand was more like semi-hardened cement than nice, fluffy sand. How do you hit from that? Would you pick it clean versus hitting down into the sand?

I ended up picking it clean because I just couldn’t figure out how hard to hit into it, and ended up sculling it over the green into another trap. Very frustrating.

Thank you,


Hi Deb,

A lot of courses have different types of sand, some have firm sand and some soft. The best way to determine the shot you should play is by digging your feet into the sand to feel the texture of the sand. If you find that the sand is firmer or even wet, then you want to use your pitching wedge and not your sand wedge. The reason for this is the sand wedge has too much bounce on the bottom of the club which allows it not to dig down into the sand but to bounce through it. The pitching wedge does not have the bounce a sand wedge does, it has more of a sharper front edge which will allow the club to dig and help you get the ball out. Play the ball a little more forward in your stance, feel your weight more on your left leg. When you set your club up to the bal,l keep the clubface square and don’t open it. Now with a very loose and relaxed swing, swing down to the ball. The club will dig in a little, helping the ball out of the sand. So don’t try to pick it out of the bunker, just use your pitching wedge and it will come right out for you.

Have fun and enjoy the game


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