STRIPE IT FROM THE SAND - Don't let your swing bottom out too soon.

May 4, 2016

Bad fairway bunker shots happen primarily for two reasons: a faulty setup and fear.

For a lot of players, the natural instinct is to try to lift the ball out. As a result, they play
the ball way forward and open the clubface to get more loft. Then they try to add speed
to get through the sand, so they swing down harder, with a lot of upper-body movement.

You've seen the result. Inconsistent contact?heavy shots, bladed shots, tops. Here's a
better plan. Set your feet just wider than your shoulders, and play the ball an inch or two
back in your stance. That will help you make descending, ball-first contact. Go ahead and
take some sand?after the ball.

Also, use one club more and choke up a half an inch on the grip?not because of the sand
but to promote a controlled, three-quarter swing. Keep your feet quiet, and focus on making
that crisp downward strike.

As for fear, the best remedy is having some success. Once you see a few good shots, your
anxiety will scatter, like sand. ?With Matthew Rudy


It's fine to talk about making that clean, descending blow on a fairway bunker shot, but how
do you practice it? Try this simple drill.

Stick a tee in the sand so the head is level with the surface, a ball width in front of the ball you're
addressing. Hit practice shots trying to clip the edge of the tee, making contact
but not digging it out of the sand. If you bottom out too early, you'll never get close to the tee.
This works wonders for players who tend to blade or top shots. You're learning to put the bottom
of your swing in the right place.

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