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Bunker to pin advice

Sat, May 30 2020 7:18 AM (48 replies)
  • hatcojack
    370 Posts
    Sat, Feb 6 2016 11:24 AM


    Since becoming master, I realised I hadn't mastered all of my game so I've been mostly playing practice rounds and taking notes of all my short play shots (on various courses), collating that information and coming up with a formula, of sorts. I also noticed there wasn't much advice on getting from the sand to the pin so hopefully this helps you as it has me.


    Firstly, I'm mostly using a L39 Z satin TP64 with an average distance of 50yds and I practice with starter balls although when I use the L11 Srixon Z-star balls I get the same results.

    ??? he lost me at: "since becoming master" 



    (28) 24yds, 4ft up from 20% (+4)= 32 dropped 19(59%),  ran 4…….-1

    (30) 24yds, 6ft up from 20%(+5) = 35 dropped 21(60%) ran 4……..+1



     These are just 2 of scores of examples I have where the 1st bracketed number is the combined length(yds) and elevation (feet are added as yards, not converted into yards). 20% is the maximum sand lie and the second bracketed numbers is the yardage I added to my swing to compensate for that lie. 'Dropped' is where the ball met the green. In both examples, the ball ran 4yds and in the first example, the ball stopped 1yd short of the pin and 1yd over in the second example.


     I've omitted explaining that the ball dropped 59% and 60% of the total hit because I got so many differing results that I couldn't see any correlation with these.


    Therefore: From 20% sand I found that combined yardage (of distance and elevation) of over 35yds where elevation exceeds 6ft needs 3 yards added.  (ball will roll further)

    Over 35yds (combined) with elevation lower than 6ft, add 4yds


    Less than 35yds (combined) and elevation is above 5ft, add 4yds

    Less than 35yds and elevation is below 5ft add 4/5yds.

      So, to clarify. If the pin is 25yds away and 4ft above your lie, 25+4+5 = 34yd swing.


    Of course, uphill, downhill and greens that break hard left or right will need to be adjusted to. I've also not mentioned wind either. Unless your playing in high winds, these figures are good in my experience.


    From 40% sand.



    34yds, 9ft up from 40% = 53 dropped 27(51%), ran 7……0

    24yds, 4ft up from 40%(10) =38 dropped 19(50%) ran downhill 9…+4


    In the 1st example I added 10yds and nailed it. In the 2nd example I added 10yds but didn't compensate for the downhill slope on the green. Although I holed it in the first example, it was traveling a fair bit so i recommend adding 9 instead of 10. To hit 53, I used a cleveland 60w with average distance of 80yds.


    Therefore:From 40% sand  combined yardage of 20-30, add 12

     combined yardage of 30-40, add 11. 40-45, add 10 and over 45, add 9.

    Again, compensate for your surroundings.


    I'll forego further examples and go straight onto 60% sand lie 


    Combined yardage of below 30, add 16yds. 30-40, add 17. 40-50, add 18 and over 50 combined yds, add 19.


    I tend to use full back spin on longer shots, where greens slope away from me and on deep lies. All others, I place the dot where the sand meets the ball.


    I apologise I haven't added in other sand lies but I just didn't see enough of them to get a reading.


    Also, some bunker shots that are shorter than the figures I've given or where the elevation is a large %age of the combined total will need either pitched or flopped as you will either drop it short or hit the fringe which tends to slope down into the green on many courses and catapult your ball well past it's intended target.


    Getting from a fairway bunker is a different beast altogether so my advice would just be to aim to get back on the fairway and take it from there.


    Remember, this isn't an exact science as all courses differ and you may use different clubs and balls as I do but If you use this as a baseline and tweak it, you'll find you'll get within 3ft of the pin every time.


     Finally. check out three of my bunker shots I've saved from the same round at Kiawah on 12/16/11  to give you an idea what practice and note taking does for your game.

     Good luck




  • balmerino
    246 Posts
    Sat, Feb 6 2016 1:58 PM

    30-40% in sand add 6 yrds

    10-15% add 3 yrds

    40-80% add 8 yrds

  • tguerr16
    33 Posts
    Sat, Feb 6 2016 4:50 PM

    Thank you for your post.  I'm going to try this once I absolutely understand it.  There is a lot to swallow there but to put that out there is awesome for beginners.  

  • JSchlosser
    1 Posts
    Sat, Feb 6 2016 9:45 PM

    Thank you for taking the time . This has helped me.


  • happyhacker57
    197 Posts
    Sun, Feb 7 2016 4:19 AM

    Try this on green side bunkers.  Add your distance, and your elevation, then if 30-40 buried, add 3 and 4.  example,,,,,,  (30 yards to hole,  5 ft ele,   30-40 buried,   30+5+3+4=42) I would hit  it 42 with full backspin.  That will give you a good starting point for green side bunkers.  Distance from apron to hole, if not much distance, will come into play too, so, may have to hit further than you want to. And if big slope to hole, that will affect this method as well. But, if pin out there away from fringe, pretty flat green, you will be very happy with the results of this method.

    If your wedge hits 60 yards max, you  wont have much success hitting less than half the distance that club will hit.   Meaning, if you add up all you numbers, and come up with 15 or 20, I doubt you will have much success with a shot like that. Would have to hit it a bit further than you want, or try flop or pitch. ( The above advise is for hitting Full )

    You can flop out or pitch out on shorter shots. but when flopping, use same formula as above, but must aim left of hole a few feet and ding it. I normally , when using flop shot, try to strike ball at line before the ding, but have found you can flop out of sand and rough, when buried, but must aim left of hole, a few feet, but ding your shot instead of trying to hit at line before ding.

    Still trying to figure out 15 - 20 buried bunker play,  Not 100% formula above works with barely buried green side bunkers. 

    Good luck !!!!

  • ScottHope
    6,832 Posts
    Sun, Feb 7 2016 8:38 AM

    Perhaps this might make Puttluck's formula a little easier to understand.....

    Click image to view full size.

  • web513
    70 Posts
    Sun, Feb 7 2016 9:04 AM that much time to figure that out???..Albert Einstein...what tier is he...SUPER DUPER WGT GOLF LEGEND???

  • lonniescott711
    4,088 Posts
    Sun, Feb 7 2016 9:36 AM

    Best way to handle bunkers is very simple . When possible and as much as possible take not only bunkers but water as well out of play . Both bunkers and water have a risk reward factor which favors the house more than the player . This means that once you commit to going over the bunker your shot is probably going to bottom out around 65% of the time .

    You cant go for the pin every shot or always trying to make eagle .Most of the time the birdie is the easiest and best option . My sand save is at 42.52% because thats where I was when I got smart and began taking bunkers out of play . Since doing so my game has become not only easier but better as well .

    No special formula is needed ,no need for a ton of notes , nor will you need a slide ruler and physics to figure it out . Just simply take the bunkers out of play and that will improve your game . Simple course management at its finest . :-) 

  • Robert1893
    6,080 Posts
    Sun, Feb 7 2016 11:52 AM

    No special formula is needed ,no need for a ton of notes , nor will you need a slide ruler and physics to figure it out . Just simply take the bunkers out of play and that will improve your game . Simple course management at its finest . :-)

    While I agree that taking bunkers out of play is the wisest approach, there will still be situations in which one finds it difficult to avoid hitting over or close to a bunker. That could be due to course design or to a previous mishit. And knowing how to play out of the bunker is a good skill to have in the toolbox. The flowchart above seems fairly straightforward. 

    So far, I've played bunker shots mostly by "feel." Even though I've improved, I could certainly do better. (I used to be less than 25%.) So i think I'll try the numbers above to see if they'll help.