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......

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