Tips From The Tour
Improve your game by learning from the pros
Move The Sand, Not The Ball
The most proficient bunker players on Tour get up and down about two out of three times from the sand. This is a testament to both their skill and the relative ease of the shot. The key to good bunker play is understanding that the ball has to be moved out of the sand by the sand, not the club. A nice thing about this is that it allows more room for error, as the shot can be struck less than perfectly and still be successful. In the photos below, you can clearly see that the ball is riding a wave of sand out of the bunker, which is the only way it’s going to get onto the green. A great way to instill the proper feeling of slapping the sand instead of trying to hit the ball is to practice hitting just sand out of the bunker and onto the green. If you can get the feeling of consistently flopping a sheet of sand onto the green, you’ll quickly learn to do so with a ball present. The swing should be aggressive, with a commitment to maintaining the speed of the clubhead to the followthrough.
|Here, you can see that Rose has made a solid thump through the sand, which carries the ball into the air.||From this angle, you can see how the ball is carried out of the bunker on a layer of sand.|
|Vijay is one of the hardest workers in golf, and it pays off because he practices like he intends to play.|
One of the many differences between Tour players and amateurs is the Tour player’s ability to take his game from the range to the golf course. A big reason for this is pure talent, but the way in which professional players practice also contributes heavily to this ability. Tour players tend to spend a percentage of time on the range working on mechanics and another portion of their time rehearsing actual shots they will need on the course. A great example of a player who does this particularly well is Vijay Singh. Obviously, he spends a great deal of time on the range with training aids, practicing drills and working with heavy clubs. This reinforces the proper mechanics he needs to swing well. However, Vijay also spends a large amount of time hitting shots that he’ll need when he’s actually playing the game. These two types of practice are distinctly different, and you need both if you want to play your best.
Brady Riggs, PGA, is a Golf Tips Senior Instruction Editor and one of the most sought-after teachers in southern California. He’s located at Woodley Lakes, G.C. in Van Nuys, CA.
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