There’s no law that says we can only step into a bunker located up by the green if we’re holding a standard, heavy-soled sand wedge. When the explosion shot you face is from a bunker that’s separated from the green by 10 or 15 yards, teaching pro Don Allan would like to see you head in there with pitching wedge, a 9-iron or even an 8-iron.
“Golfers would find it easier to use pitching wedge or 9-iron from bunkers near the green if they realized they were simply hitting a ball out of sand, not digging it out of a tar pit,” laughs Allan.
Here are his simple instructions for the long greenside explosion:
## When you take a less-lofted iron into a bunker, you can generally cut down the length of your swing a bit, which will give you more control.
## Think of the long explosion in simple terms: You supply the power, but the club does the actual work. As long as you don’t decelerate coming into impact, a controlled but decisive swing will supply plenty of that escape power.
## Place the ball in the center of your stance and keep the legs quiet. No need to drive them forward. Also, your stance at address should be square to the target line, not opened up.
## In accord with your stance, the leading edge of the iron should be square at address, not turned open.
## With this combination of a stronger-lofted club and a “toned-down” swing, you’ll also want to take a little less sand than you would with a heavy sand wedge. Therefore, make a less steeply angled swing than you normally would in a green-area bunker.
## Execute your decisive, non-decelerating swing, and look for the ball to come out slightly lower than on most bunker shots, though still plenty high to clear a normal lip. When it lands, it will have enough spin to settle down after completing its initial hop, skip and roll.
And if the lip of the bunker is too high or you haven’t practiced this shot the way you told yourself you would, “just switch to a regular sand wedge,” advises Cramer, “and hit a basic escape shot. It may not reach the green but at least you won’t be playing two shots in a row from the same bunker.”