Improve Your Bunker Shot

Published on 03 May 2011 by in Lessons Articles

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The average amateur has made the bunker shot much more difficult than it really is.  They think the stance has to be way open with a club face that is way open.  They are mentally confused on what to really do.  A bunker lesson shouldn’t last more than twenty minutes. That’s because there is not much to it.  When someone asks for a lesson in the bunker, I will first look at the form they use for the regular chip shot.  If the chip/pitch has breakdown in the forward wrist,(left wrist for a right handed golfer), if the weight doesn’t transfer to the left leg, and the body isn’t turning through the finish, then we will first address that.  The reason is that if you chip and pitch with bad form, then the swing you will rely on in the bunker will be the same.  To start with the simplest bunker shot, here are a few things to look at.

1. Place your feet about shoulder width, and the ball just forward of center by an inch or two.

2. For starters, keep the feet square and not open.  And for most players, I would suggest you use a 60 degree or lob wedge, and not the sand wedge.  It will give you more loft, which will get the ball up easier without your help of scooping.

3. Bend the knees, almost as if you were sitting on a bar stool, this will help you hit the ball fat or behind an inch or so.

4. Follow through like a normal golf shot, with the weight on the left leg and the hips, chest, and head facing the target.

5. If you still struggle, draw a line in the sand.  Straddle the line with the line slightly ahead of the center of your chest.  Take practice swings hitting the line without a ball.  Pay attention to see if you are hitting too much behind or forward.  Make adjustments with your swing, not set up, remembering to always finish the golf shot on the front leg with balance.

6. If you are really fearful of the greenside bunker and there isn’t a lip on the edge of the bunker, putt it.

Give these tips a shot and if you need some more help in this area, give me a call and we will take care of it together.

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Have you ever broke 90?

Published on 14 March 2011 by in Uncategorized

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During the initial discussion at the beginning of a lesson series, I often hear that a student would see considerable improvement in their scores by getting more distance out of their clubs.  The average student making this statement shoots between 90 and 110.  If you have taken any lessons from me in the past, you should know that I am a firm believer in the chip shot.  There are two reasons for this, one, chipping is a very important part of the golf game.  If you aren’t hitting greens or getting it close to the flag inside 60 yards, then your score will definitely improve with better chipping.  The other primary reason is that chipping is the small version of the full swing.  If you rely on bad mechanics in the short game, you are likely to see it in a bigger version when the full swing takes place.  Have you noticed that in most cases, golfers with great short games have pretty good swings and have lower handicaps?  The second thing I like to work on during lessons is the 150 yard shot and in.  If you can hit a 150-yard shot consistently, then you can break 90.

Here is an idea I would like for you to consider.  If you take an average white tee golf course’s yardage of 6,500 yards and divide it by 150-yards you get a total of 43. I know that you won’t hit it in the hole every time, so if we add a 2 putt on every hole then we get a total of 36 putts.  When you add the 43 golf shots and 36 putts you would end up with a score of 79.  Now I know that there may be some water hazards and obstacles you may have to go around with only having a 150 yard shot, so we will add another 9 strokes for those situations and maybe missing a few greens on the approach.  When we add 9 more strokes we get an 88.  Remember, that is from the middle tees so if you are playing the front tees, the score could be even lower.  Also note, this is without using a driver, 3 wood and possibly those dreaded long irons.  Those are usually the clubs that mess with the swing and drive your score up.

I challenge you to try this sometime.  Go play nine holes with the clubs you hit 150 yards and less, then see what you shoot.  Keep track of where you lose shots and I bet it won’t have anything to do with loss of distance.  If you consistently score under a 45 then it’s time to add some more yardage.

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The Distance Wedge

Published on 01 February 2011 by in Blog

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If you saw the end of the 2011 Farmers Insurance Open here at Torrey Pines, I think you’d agree it was a pretty good tournament ending. Bubba Watson having to really solidify his final putt and Phil having Bones tend the flag just in case he cans it. Nice ending.

And now that it’s over, I’m back to work on the lesson tee and the golf course probably teaching some of my students to hit a distance wedge of 72 yards like the one Phil attempted. Now it’s a relatively easy shot. What makes it difficult is to get it as close as Phil does. Amazingly he did almost hole it off the fly and then spun it back to about four feet. Now I don’t expect the majority of my students to do that but the fundamentals of the shot are not as difficult as one would expect.

First, ball position is important. Make sure you position the ball so you’re not going to hit it fat or skinny. That would probably be a little back in their stance for the majority of golfers. Then, by all means don’t over swing. A half to three quarter swing will be sufficient. The shorter swing will compel you have to accelerate the club through the ball.

The common errors to this shot are an over swing with a decelerated motion through the ball. Not good. Practice will help you to get it close. But knowing the fundamentals of the shot will at least give you a chance to hole the putt.

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