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What's the Best Wedge for Firm Sand?


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The sand in the bunkers at my club tends to get pretty firm, especially after a rain.  What wedges do you guys recommend for this?  I'm currently playing Mizuno T20 in 55* and 60* with 9 and 10 degrees of bounce respectively.  Instead of getting a nice splash shot, my wedges tend to kinda skip off the sand into the ball.  I may just need to work on my technique, but right now I'm blaming the wedges, lol.  I normally lay them almost wide open to hit bunker shots.  I get the ball out with no problem, but I feel like I'm having to swing too easy because the club won't get down into the sand like it should.  Hopefully I've explained the situation well enough and you guys can make some good recommendations.  Thanks!

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Firm sand is going to be one part equipment and two parts technique. Laying the club wide open to create a ton of effective bounce will almost always give you troubles in firm sand. You have to commit

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Mizuno ES21 60/6 works well for me.

The sand at my club gets really firm at times as well.

I am a very decent bunker player and use my 5* bounce (wide sole with heel relief) from both normal and firm sand conditions. When its firm, i just open the club up a little bit less and when the sand is really soft, I use my SW (14* bounce). I would look into a wedge with low-ish bounce with a not too narrow sole and some heel relief (so the heel has no problem getting into the sand). So something like Callaway C grind, Vokey M grind or something similar should to. If you are very shallow or steep, that might vary a little. I am shallow so I do prefer less bounce.

 

edit: i also change my technique slightly when its firm. I shift my weight forward a little and try to feel "steep" into the sand because otherwise my sole would just skip over the sand like a stone over water. But again, might vary for you if you are steep

Edited by Bunkersarebigcups

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I struggle with soft, fluffy sand but when it's the opposite extreme and gets really solid after a heavy rain (like hardpan) I actually can get the ball out every time by just taking my LW and squaring the face up or even slightly hooding it and hitting down on it pretty steeply.

 

I think if you're a decent bunker player under normal conditions it makes sense to just use the wedges that work best for you. When it gets packed down hard, square up the LW and just get the ball out of there. Assuming it's only an occasional shot or occasional round it's better to use a special technique rather than changing your preferred type of wedge.

 

One problem is, it's hard to find a practice bunker with wet hardpan to practice that shot!

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Everyone has given you good advice the other thing I would mention is you have 2 wedges with similar bounce angles. Personally I like to have my LW with low bounce and my SW with higher bounce. I have a Ping glide 3.0 58* (TS) with 6* effective bounce and a 54* (SS) with 12*. I use my 58 for most shots around the greens including bunkers but do use my 54* for certain shots. I feel like it offers me a lot of versatility. 

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6 hours ago, Valtiel said:

Firm sand is going to be one part equipment and two parts technique. Laying the club wide open to create a ton of effective bounce will almost always give you troubles in firm sand. You have to commit to swinging much harder to get down into the firm sand, or just get used to playing the face less open. 

As far as equipment, I prefer medium width soles with medium bounce, or wide soles with very low bounce and/or relief. The 6* bounce version of your 60* might perform better here, but you have to weigh that against what you want to use it for outside the sand and what those conditions look like. 

I find that not opening up the face as much is the better option than to swing a lot harder in firm sand.  The ball can do anything when swinging harder from any bunker IMO. 

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I live in Vancouver, Canada and we've got more than our fair share of rain so we deal with firm sand all the time.  Any SW (actually any wedge) regardless of bounce can do the job.  You just have to address the ball with a face that isn't so wide as open so the heel part of the leading edge can have a better chance to cut into the sand first.

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I just ordered a vokey t grind, in large part to deal with this issue.  I’d never encountered hard sand before I moved to western WA last year and I can get the job done with my M grind, but I’d like an option that handles it a little more gracefully.

 

I have had to think about the technique a lot more, and it’s scary to swing as hard as you need to to get into the sand sometimes. If it’s wet I chip the ball with a square face as others have mentioned.

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I not saying bounce is not important but FOR ME the grind on the wedge is far more important. If you have bad technique it really doesn't matter what the bounce grind options are. My personal preference is my Vokey 58.10S when coming out of bunkers with firm sand... especially true with these un-raked covid bunkers.

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1 hour ago, phizzy30 said:

I find that not opening up the face as much is the better option than to swing a lot harder in firm sand.  The ball can do anything when swinging harder from any bunker IMO. 

Not to mention that by opening up the face you are adding bounce which makes it much more likely to skip into the ball and cause problems.  Firm sand is one thing that I always use a square club face for.  Almost all other sand shots get opened up.  I also like a lob wedge with a lowing bounce and a 54 with more bounce.  I think this sets you up for success in almost all conditions.

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Just now, jomatty said:

Not to mention that by opening up the face you are adding bounce which makes it much more likely to skip into the ball and cause problems.  Firm sand is one thing that I always use a square club face for.  Almost all other sand shots get opened up.  I also like a lob wedge with a lowing bounce and a 54 with more bounce.  I think this sets you up for success in almost all conditions.

Agree.  As you can see from my sig, my wedge set up is the similar if not identical to yours for the same reasons. 

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8 hours ago, drumdude96 said:

The sand in the bunkers at my club tends to get pretty firm, especially after a rain.  What wedges do you guys recommend for this?  I'm currently playing Mizuno T20 in 55* and 60* with 9 and 10 degrees of bounce respectively.  Instead of getting a nice splash shot, my wedges tend to kinda skip off the sand into the ball.  I may just need to work on my technique, but right now I'm blaming the wedges, lol.  I normally lay them almost wide open to hit bunker shots.  I get the ball out with no problem, but I feel like I'm having to swing too easy because the club won't get down into the sand like it should.  Hopefully I've explained the situation well enough and you guys can make some good recommendations.  Thanks!

 

1. Thinner sole with same bounce: Titleist T Grind, Edel T Grind, Homna W4 Wedge....etc. Sole width is what I would look at first, then dial in the bounce for that sole width. 

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You have described every trap on my home course.  Having watched many, many people struggle with them I will loudly bang the "technique" drum.

 

For myself, I have found 8 to 12 degrees of bounce handles just about any type of lie.  From the ball sitting  up on the surface to the fried egg.  Do not want the leading edge to be sitting up very much & want some curvature at the bottom.  Also want the sole about a medium width.  The fairway traps are ones that you can get out with a mid iron almost every time.

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Never found low bounce necessary (for me) to handle firm sand and ours can get pretty firm.  Don't really open the face much at all, fairly square stance and Monte's minivan vs. Ferrari approach to swing, i.e. no reason to take a big ole cut at, if anything I think a constant but slower pace for feel, but that's just my thought.

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I'll chime in with agreement on not opening the club up. 55* is plenty of loft unless you're in the deep end of a swimming pool. 

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M grind. square face works for hard/wet sand. can open the face for medium/slightly fluffier sand. for really fluffy sand you'll need awesome technique or more bounce.

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Like a lot of people are saying, keeping the face square is helpful in hitting out of hard sand.  But, if you like playing with the face open, you just have to be very aggressive in trying to pick the ball out of the sand.  The normal idea of hitting a few inches behind the ball doesn't work... it is more like trying to hit a ball off of a cart path.

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Close the club face and hit down hard about 2 inches behind the ball.  Don't decelerate.  Doesn't really matter which SW you use.

 

That said, I once played in a charity event at East Lake on a drizzly day with a women collegiate golfer who is now a well-known LPGA pro.  She said she opens up the face even more than normal and swings shorter but quicker thru the hit, if that makes sense.  It worked great for her.  She popped the ball out to about 2 feet with tons of backspin.  I tried it and bladed the ball about 100 yards over the green.

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Lower bounce.  Especially if you want to open the club up as it will expose more leading edge with a higher bounce option compared to a lower bounce option.

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3 minutes ago, ShowMe said:

That said, I once played in a charity event at East Lake on a drizzly day with a women collegiate golfer who is now a well-known LPGA pro.  She said she opens up the face even more than normal and swings shorter but quicker thru the hit, if that makes sense.  It worked great for her.  She popped the ball out to about 2 feet with tons of backspin.  I tried it and bladed the ball about 100 yards over the green.

Look on the bright side - you outdistanced a pro by about 100 yards. Spin (psychological, not ball) is everything...

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The local pro once showed me how to hit from hard sand or a buried lie.  Just close the club face down about 30*.  Yes, you read that... Close it down!  Hit it like a regular bunker shot with no face manipulation.  The toe digs in first, naturally squares as you go through the sand under the ball and the ball pops right out.  Only need to learn how hard to hit the ball for the distance.  This works great and I'm pretty darn good from the sand.

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25 minutes ago, nostatic said:

Look on the bright side - you outdistanced a pro by about 100 yards. Spin (psychological, not ball) is everything...

Lol.  The best part of the day was watching her consistently outdrive my buddies by about 30 yards.  I hit it a little longer than them and could barely keep up with her.  She was tall for a woman, but rail thin.  They couldn't believe (nor could I) how far she hit it given her frame.  She was still in college at the time, but you could definitely tell that she had a bright professional future ahead of her.

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