Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Golf Sand Shots - Don't Be Afraid of Bunkers Cont'd - Bunker Design Types

In the early days of golf the bunkers were formed naturally by nature and animals such as rabbits and sheep.  Now the bunkers are created by the course designers to give beauty, strategy, and hazards to stimulate the golfers ability to challenge the course.  Apart from being carefully placed to encourage the well-struck shot or to unnerve the fainthearted, they should also clearly indicate the best way to play a particular hole and highlight certain danger areas.

Some of the modern courses today, unfortunately, sport some large, very flat fairway bunkers which are so shallow you could take a driver to play out of them.  They are formed this way to keep costs down, but they are not what bunkers are all about.  Another trend, is putting bunkers too close to the surface of the putting green.  As far as green keepers are concerned, this is a bad move, as sand is always splashed onto the putting surface causing damage and disease to the grass.  If the sand contains  high lime content or made up of course particles, it will be incompatible with the top dressing material.  It will cover up the turf, which could lead to mold and possible weaken the turf itself over time.

By putting sand near the putting surface it provides a unfair hazard for the golfer.  On well designed courses you should be able to use your putter from the immediate surroundings of the green.

There are three different types of bunkers from fairway to green that positively aid the golfer in playing the hole, namely direction, carry and saving bunkers.  Two other types, called definition and face bunkers, can be both a help or a difficult hazard, while waste, collection and pot bunkers come under the dangerous hazard classification and should be avoided at all cost.

The  bunker designs that are usually used to help by indicating the best route or direction for your drive are directional bunkers.  Placed well down the fairway on par fours or fives way out of reach of the handicap player even if he this his Sunday best shot.  By aiming directly at them, this will keep you from any of the trouble on either side of the fairway.  The purpose of these bunkers is to allow you to open up a dog-leg for you and certainly give the best line of approach to the green. 

Another type bunker you find off the tee box is the carry bunker.  They are called this for they threaten the landing area of your drive so that you musty carry them, can help to define the area more clearly, although they often inhibit a free swing by their mere presence.  Don't be to concerned though,  They are usually placed well short of your optimum landing area, but if you do catch your ball a little thin and find yourself in he sad, the changes are you will be in a good lie as these bunkers are usually fairly large and flat.

Another helping type bunker is the saving bunker.  These are generally placed around the green.  They are placed where there is generally real trouble spots, as the bunkers are carefully positioned to stop the ball from bouncing or rolling down into them.  A steep slope leading to an out of-bounds to the right of the green will sometimes be marked by a saving bunker above it, which will grab an over-hit approach shot or slice. 

You often find them behind or in front of the green where there is water or trees.  As they almost invariably give you an uphill lie, recover onto the green is rarely difficult; the option is certainly better than the trouble they bar.  This allows you to have confidence to go after the pin and be safe from the trouble.

Since saving bunkers help define trouble areas, definition bunkers are positioned to outline the target area for your drive off the tee, or to help you judge your line or distance to the flag.  These are the most common bunkers on the course, the fairway version will pose more difficult problems, due to steepness of front slope or lie, on the shorter par fours.

Green side hazards, should give some indication of how much green there is between hole and the bunker, when viewed in relation to the flag, which helps in club selection.  They can bracket the green, are deep and difficult to escape from, so you should never flirt with them.

Now Face Bunkers, which are found in front of the green more often than not, help to decide the area of green you should play for.  They generally help mask the distance to the flag from the edges of the putting surface.    They are generally quite steep, with sharp down slopes in front, you should play well clear of them.

The menacing hazard includes waste bunkers.  The word waste before the term bunker should give you a great indication that this will be a difficult area to hit from.  They are long, flat areas of sand surrounded by local shrub rather than fairway grass, they often feature clumps or islands of grass inside them to create an even more difficult problem for the golfer.  Sometimes you get lucky with your lie and pick your ball cleanly off the sand or if you're close to the green, play a standard splash shot.

Collection bunkers are another dangerous type.  They are usually found lining the fairways of older courses, often on the inside corner of a dog-leg.  Designed to catch all but the best struck tee shot, as most of the surrounding fairway slopes into them.  They are usually deep and can be small or large.  In most cases they have a steep face of 1:1 or steeper.

This years Open, won by Phil Michelson, at Muirfield was an example of a lot of Pot Bunkers.  These are typical of most courses in Scotland.  These bunkers are small, round and deep with step faces everywhere that demand a high recover shot.  Pot bunkers are the most menacing form of the hazard and provide a real challenge for you to keep calm in their vicinity and just play steadily toward the flag. 

As you can see there a number of hazards some helpful some not.  When you understand which is which then you should be able to help with the strategy of your game and lower your score.

Next blog we will talk about the Strategy of Bunker play.

Until then, when you are in a bunker and cannot see the flag you know you are in trouble.....

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Golf Sand Shots - Don't Be Afraid of the Bunker Cont'd - Sand Types

To continue with the information on Sand Shots - Don't Be Afraid of the Bunker you want to get as much knowledge of what you are dealing with so you can remove your fear.  Fear is not having the understanding or information necessary to accomplish what you need to do with confidence.

Sand Bunkers

All sand is silica (SiO2) but its composition varies to a certain degree all over the world.  Almost all golf courses use the natural sand found in their location. 

In he tropic, many golf courses have bunkers filled with coral sand, which contains  fair amount of shell in it.  As a result, the grains are quite large and pack together loosely.  When a ball lands in one of these bunkers, it will tend to sit up on top of the sand and be played out without problem.

Sand on inland tropic courses is usually made out of limestone.  This type of sand will allow you to play out with backspin and control, unless it's ground too finely in which case it tends to produce buried lies, from which you cannot get backspin.

Generally, golf courses use local sand to save cost, some designers specify very white sand for aesthetic reasons.  The very pure silica sand is often imported from Idaho in the US or comes from Australia.  While the bunkers may provide a beautiful contrast with the rich green fairways, the sand grains are too rounded and mobile, so your ball will tend to sit down well in them and you're not likely to get any control when you blast out.

Golfers worldwide are fortunate, what most common type of sand found in bunkers is river pit or beach sand.  This tends to have hard, gritty grains on which the ball sits up well.  Some river sands however, can be contaminated with silt, which will cause it to set like concrete when wet.  Too much of a shell content will attract worms on inland courses. Beach sand is often so fine and in St. Andrews, the home of golf, sand for the bunkers is carefully taken from a particular pat of the beach where it is just course enough.

Sand is the shape of its grain, and this comes in eight different grades of granulation which is the most important factor.  Quarry or Pit sand has very angular grains which tend to bind tightly together, but some sea sand is too rounded and as a result too mobile.  Very fine sand usually blows out of the bunkers on windy courses and often sets with a "crust" in certain conditions, proving an unfair hazard.

Sand  that allows the ball to plug excessively and offer an unstable footing is course and rounded.  The ideal composition is a medium grade of sand, of some 2.5 mm in size and semi-rounded.  This gives a firm surface from which water will drain away well and you can play off in most circumstances with confidence.

When playing different courses golfers generally get knowledge of the types of grass on fairway, rough, and greens.  They generally never ask what is the composition of the sand in order to understand what type of lies and or shots will be required during the course of their round.  With the above information you should have a better understanding and idea of how you will need to hit shots which are determined by the type of sand you are hitting from.

Next blog we will cover Bunker Types.

Until then......If you don't understand the conditions at the beach stay out of the sand......

Monday, July 22, 2013

Golf Sand Shots - Don't be Afraid of the Bunker

Shots from the Sand Trap on the Golf Course - Don't be afraid of them.

One of the most feared areas for the average golfer is the Sand Trap or Bunker.  Just the name Sand Trap puts negative thought into your mind. 

The word Trap as defined is a device intended to catch an intruder or prey. "Trap" may also refer to the tactic of catching or harming an adversary. Conversely it may also mean a hindrance for change, being caught in a trap.

In the rules of golf Trap or Bunker is defined in USGA Rules and Regulations Section III Definitions:  A “bunker’’ is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.   The key word in this is hazard which implies that there is trouble. 

With the above definition of bunker or sand trap along with the how it is talked about and described in the game of golf by golfers this is a place that you don't want to be.  Then you have to ask yourself the question, why is it that when watching the PGA Tour the commentators state that the Professional Golfers a lot of times try to hit the green side bunker with their drives on short par fours or second shots on some of the par fives.

I will tell you that it is easier to hit a bunker shot most of the time near the hole or hole out than try to do it from the rough around the green.  You generally have a smooth lie and have more control of distance and stopping ability. 

Now, I will tell you that the professional golfer does practice this shot a lot.  There is a technique to it and if the average golfer would put some practice in it they would loose their fear.  Of course fear of something is not knowing how to deal with it.  So the only way to loose your fear is to work through it and learn all you can about your emissary the bunker shot.

There are many you tube videos and books on the subject, but, I find that Gary Player is the master of the bunker shot.  He has spent countless hours of practice in this field to be able to help any level of golfer.  His booked titled "GARY PLAYER BUNKER PLAY WITH MIKE WADE THE GOLF MASTERS SERIES" is a must read.

I will continue over the next few blogs talking about the various types of bunkers, sand, and shots you can use, along with strategy.

Until then, learn to have the bunker work for you and don't be afraid....

Monday, July 15, 2013

Golf Course Management - Tips

Golf Course Management - The Toughest Outlook in Golf. 

Lets dissect the words Golf Course Management.

Golf Course - A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, a fairway, the rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick ("pin") and hole ("cup"), all designed for the game of golf.

Management - Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of coordinating the efforts of people to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively.

With the two definitions above you have to take a look at Managing your round at the golf course.  You have to establish goals of your round with objectives to accomplish what you are seeking your outcome to become.

Below are tips on how to better course manage and get your score lower.

Goal/Objectives -
  • Final Score
  • Plan of attack
  • Hole by hole objective
  • Execution

  1. Determine the Final Score Goal
  2. Plan of attack
    • Evaluate the Course
      • course layout
      • yardage
      • rough
      • elevation differences
      • Wind direction and speed
  3. Hole by Hole objective
    • Plan each shot per hole (work from pin back)
      • Is green sloped, flat, undulating
      • determine spot you need to hit green with approach shot allowing position needed for optimal chance at 1 putting.
      • Determine yardage you desire to hit to spot determined on green
      • Distance from Tee area to determined yardage of approach shot (this will determine club you will want to hit from Tee area
  4. Execution
    • Be Accurate
      • Avoid the common mistake of trying to hit the ball as far as you can every time off of the tee on par fours and fives at the expense of accuracy.  The benefit of having a shorter approach shot to a green is more often than not lost one the ball rolls out of bounds or into a hazard because you have tried to hit the ball as far as physically possible  Novices will typically struggle to hit their driver with any degree of accuracy ad until the club is mastered the lower-numbered woods should be used off the tee to keep the ball in the fairway and give the player a realistic shot at hitting the green.
    • Have Targets
      • Try to have a tangible target for every shot you take on the golf course.  Rather than hitting the ball towards the green and hoping it lands somewhere that gives you a decent chance at an approach, you need to plan for the hole.  Once you have become acquainted with the course and have a good concept of where it is advantageous to be on each of its holes, pick out targets n the background to aim for.  Know where the hazards are, especially the "blind" ones that cannot be seen from the fairway, and have targets chosen that can keep you clear of them  One of the key aspects of golf course management is hitting shots that make your next shot less difficult.  Rather than try to hit at a flagstick on a green, it is sometimes advisable to hit to a spot that gives you an uphill putt at the hold or keeps the ball away from a bunker.  Having a target in mind during a shot can help you to achieve these goals.
    • Play Intelligently
      • Playing smart and controlling your emotions are a large part of good golf course management.  By not abandoning a game plan and focusing on each shot, you can become a consistent player.  Many golfers make the error of thinking about upcoming shots and lose their concentration on the shot about to be played, causing a poor result  The mistake then gets compounded when he tries to recover with a shot that is well beyond his ability  It is important to realize your limitations, understand which clubs you have a good feel for and which you need to work on, and then use this knowledge on the course.  Realize that you cannot duplicate the shots that you have seen professionals make on television and don't let your ego dictate your next move on the course.

By using the above information you should be able to better understand not only your game and limitations but be able to manage the course to allow you to score better than you ever have.

Until next time,  by learning your limitations, staying within yourself, and checking your ego at the door you will have a lot of fun on the course....


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How Do You Deal With Bad Golf Day - Dealing with Disappointment

How you deal with stress and what you do when you let yourself down is important to character building.  The easy part of the game of golf is when you are playing well and everything goes your way.  The scores are excellent and all your shots have the right bounce.  You don't have to think about feeling good it just happens.  You express yourself in a positive well mannered way.

I always want to be in the situation above because it feels so good.  But, the game of golf has a funny way of bringing the bad bounces, short puts, missed shots which bring you to feeling not so good, anger, disappointed, and flat out annoyed of the game you love.

As I stated above it is easy to deal with stress in life and golf when everything is going your way.  What do you do when it isn't.

Well in the last tournament I played I witnessed some professional golfers on how not to react.  I have also seen in the years of playing golf how the average golfers react.  During the tournament last weekend one of the players was frustrated enough that he threw his putter across the green.  Another player cursed and expressed himself very loudly in a negative manner.  This led to the golfers continuing to play bad the rest of the game and not score very well.  Doesn't mean if they didn't do that they would score better, but they would have a better chance of changing the outcome.

Every golfer expresses themselves differently.  It is the ones that don't let the game and the bad shots get to them that helps motivate the average golfers to see that the game is a pleasant game and not as Mark Twain once stated 'Golf is a great walk ruined'.

Don't get me wrong, I have moments in golf that are stressful and full of missed shots, short putts, and bad scores.  It is the attitude you bring that helps you get through.  The past weekend tournament nothing would go right.  I couldn't figure it out, but accepted the fact that nothing was going my way.  The more I tried the more it went array.  With four holes left I realized the key was to start taking it a shot at a time instead of a hole at a time and I was able to par out.   A little late, but I was proud that I was finally able to work out the issues and get the game on track even though the round was over and the score I shot wasn't good enough to win the tournament.  I was disappointed, upset at myself for allowing me to play badly, but the positive was at the end I figured it out.  I try to look at golf and life as positively as I can.   This allows me to enjoy myself even when things don't go my way.

I enjoy playing with any level of golfer except the ones that throw clubs, get angry and blame everything but themselves.   I think the worst golfer is the best golfer that shows his......

Ways you can work through the bad times during the round and after the round (you can use this for life also):

  • Acceptance of how things are going.  Remember acceptance is the answer to all our prayers.
  • Get out of your own way.  Quit putting yourself down.
  • Remember this too shall pass.  After the shot is hit, it is over.
  • Find the good in the shot, even though you might not see it.
  • Be positive and show enjoyment.  Someone might be watching and that might keep them away from the game.
Everyone has bad days, sometimes they go on for a while.  Remember that through the help of Jesus Christ the waters will calm down and the streams will flow right.  Then you will have the game of your life. 

Until next time, keep your dreams alive by continuing to go forward even though sometimes you go backwards