On all first - class courses the bunkers or hazards are so arranged as to impose a penalty on a poorly played stroke. Outside of long grass these are ordinarily of artificial production and take the form of cop-bunkers or shallow pots of varying sizes filled with sand. It is much easier to get into them than it is to get out of them - usually. Yet it should not cost more than one stroke to get the ball out, if properly played. Let us take the case of a ball lying in sand with the cop or face of the bunker a yard or so away and several times as high. It is obvious that the essential part of the stroke is to get the ball to rise quickly in order to clear the obstacle. This cannot possibly be accomplished with the ordinary stroke. In the first place the club itself must not come in contact with the ball at all when it is desired to make the latter rise almost perpendicularly. The character of the stroke must also be radically altered. The club should be taken up as straight as possible - up, not away from the ball - and it should be brought straight down again on the same line. The aim should be back of the ball an inch or so, depending entirely upon the height and proximity of the bunker to be surmounted. The stroke is no longer a swing, but a genuine hit, delivered with all the force at command. For this purpose the club should be gripped very firmly. It is the kind of a blow that you would give a snake, for instance - no love tap, but full of concentrated energy, even to the point of vindictiveness - straight down, without any thought of any jar to the wrists resulting. This is substantially the sort of stroke necessary. In practice no jar or shock to the wrists will follow - the yielding nature of the sand will avert all possibility of anything of the kind. Firmness and determination are absolutely essential in playing bunker shots.
We are dealing now with the ball not teed up or lying merely on the surface of the sand, but with the ordinary, every-day lie met with - and bad enough it usually is. "Desperate diseases require desperate remedies," and lies of this sort call for strokes of a special nature.
Fig, 32 Address For Bunker Shot
Fig- 33 Top Of Stroke
Fig. 34 Finish Of Stroke Playing Out Of Hazards
To assist in getting the club up more vertically a rather wider stance than usual should be taken. The greater the initial loft desired the more should the aim be farther back of the ball, allowing the head of the club to sink down into the sand. Do not attempt to aid the club in getting the ball up. The impact behind the ball, joined to the lofted face of the club, will do the work without any extraneous effort on your part. Undoubtedly the best club to use is the niblick, by reason of its small head, lofted face, and greater weight. Very many good players, however, use a mashie, which, in their hands, answers the purpose almost as well.
On several courses bunkers will be found with high, steep faces or cops. When the ball is lying directly at the foot or very close up to one of these (unless practically teed up) it will be almost impossible to play it out straight. In such circumstances it is advisable to face around to the left and play at an angle, so as to allow a greater margin of clearance in the upward flight. Sometimes, however, this is inexpedient, when the ball is towards the left of the bunker, and getting it out would land it in rough grass or bad ground.
If it is impossible to play to the right owing to close proximity to the face, it is then better to play back. Each and every shot in golf should be played with especial reference to the following one. If you are bunkered close up to the green, then endeavor to pitch over. If, however, the green is some distance away and can be reached after playing back, then play back, especially if you have any doubt about getting out towards the hole. And in playing back always remember, if the next shot is a long one, that you want to be sufficiently far away from the bunker to clear it on the following stroke and at the same time gain the necessary distance. Unless, however, the chances are much against you it is better to play out towards the hole. If you get out in this way you can't get in the same bunker on your next stroke, while there is always a possibility of doing so when the ball has been played back.
There is, perhaps, no part of the game that calls for such exercise of judgment as when you are in a hazard. How many a fine score has been ruined by lack of discretion and self-control! The ball is lying badly, and you attempt to play it out and succeed only in putting it in a worse position. After expending several strokes in a vain effort to get it over you determine to play it back. You do so, but your previous experience has proved so demoralizing and has so undermined your confidence that it is no small wonder if you manage to put your next shot slap into the trouble you have just emerged from.
In medal play it is better to play cautiously and avoid taking any undue risks. In match play you must be governed largely by your opponent's score.
Unless the ball is lying fairly well and there is no opposing face the stroke necessary to get it out of sand is different in character from the ordinary one. Always remember this. At the risk of being tiresome let me briefly run over what you should do. First make up your mind where you intend playing the ball, then take your stance, with feet wide apart and worked firmly into the sand, and with the ball about midway between. Grip tightly with both hands and bring the club down as straight as possible until the sole is within an inch or so of the top of the sand, where you propose striking, behind the ball. Keep your eye rigidly fastened on that spot - not on the ball - and withdraw the club on a straight line up to the right shoulder; a straight line, mind, not a rounded one. Then bring it down again on the same straight line with all the force you can controllably command, consistent with accuracy. As it sinks into the sand its course may then, but not until then, be slightly directed towards the ball. It will be found a hard matter to bring the club down too straight - the natural tendency being to make a curve. As one is not of course permitted to sole the club in a hazard, a certain allowance must be made on this account in the aim, otherwise there is a great liability of hitting too close to the ball or even the ball itself. This point should also be carefully remembered in playing for distance out of a sand pit or fairly level stretch where there is no obstruction in front, and where it is not necessary to get the ball up quickly. In a case of this kind both the upward and downward hit - the term is used advisedly, as all bunker shots should partake more of the nature of a hit than a swing - should be less vertical, and the point of aim may be directed a trifle closer to the ball.
The preceding remarks may also be applied to a ball in long grass, more especially with respect to the necessity of using a more or less perpendicular stroke. If the swing is more rounded - the ordinary stroke, in short - the head of the club will encounter a larger share of grass, and in cutting through it a great deal of the power of the stroke is lost, to say nothing of the possibility of the head being turned or twisted.
When a ball is to be played out of a hazard of any kind the prime consideration should be to make sure of getting it out. The great mistake which many players make is to strive both to get it out and get length as well, and in their effort to get distance (and very frequently distance would not be of any material help) they do not give proper attention to the fundamental question of hitting the ball clean and simply extricating it from the hazard. Having failed to get it out on the first essay they consider the wasted shot has got to be made up - and this is usually the beginning of a long procession of abortive strokes.
When it is desired to play the ball on a certain line the player squares the face of the club at right angles thereto, which causes it to go straight if properly struck. Occasionally, however, this is not advisable. For instance, the ball may be lying at the edge of a fence where it is not possible to make the swing in the direction that you desire the ball to go. Let us take, for example, a ball lying within a foot or so of a fence parallel to the line of play, and where, owing to its lie, it can only be fairly hit at the imminent risk of sending it into the fence or out of bounds.
All that is necessary is to face the club around in the direction that you wish to send the ball and play the stroke in the regular way. Do not change the stroke itself in any way; the angle of the face of the club will do the work. As a further aid it is well to hit somewhat off the toe of the club. Instead of the ball following the apparent line of play, as indicated by the swing, it will shoot off at a tangent, under the influence of the abnormal facing of the club.