Chips & Divots: The Science of a Perfect Bunker Shot

Though thousands of Cape May County summer visitors flock to the area to enjoy a breezy day in the sand, a sandy bunker is not exactly a dream destination for your average golfer. Rather, a greenside bunker shot tends to be a most unpleasant experience. But Cape May County’s varied championship courses would not be complete without their signature sandy stretches. Sand Barrens Golf Club of Swainton, with its 27 championship holes, features dramatic bunkers set against undulating greens. When your ball plants itself in a Sand Barrens bunker, here’s what you need to know to easily maneuver your way back onto the green:

1. Move the ball an inch or two forward from center. Though this is most golfers’ first move, it’s nonetheless important to remember.

2. Play the ball even with your left heel. This is basically the same ball position you should use when hitting your driver as well.

3. Open the clubface so that the back of the clubhead would be resting on the sand if you allowed it to drop. This allows the bulge on the back side of your sand wedge’s clubhead (also known as its “bounce”) to optimally enter the sand and skim under the ball without digging too deep. Though there are many sand wedge choices on the market, the majority of golfers prefer the 60 degree wedge and with good reason. It maximizes your bounce and simplifies the sand shot. However on fairways bunkers, a 56 degree sand wedge is said to maximize distance.

4. Swing the club along your toe line to hit it straight.

Though this setup may at first feel uncomfortable or be opposed to what you’re used to, we guarantee that the club will easily slide through the sand rather than dig and will hit in exactly the right spot.