NCGA Golf

Spring 2017

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In most of the game you'll move a little through the swing, but in the bunker you don't want your head to move at all. You want to stay stable so you can hit that spot two inches behind the ball. If you can control the entry points into the sand, you have a chance to get out every time. And while it's OK to lower the right shoulder for most shots, in the bunker you want to raise it to move your weight forward. There are two other elements to keep constant as far as club posi- tion: The clubface goes to the target and the butt of the club keeps pointing at your belt buckle (Photo 7). And in most bunker shots, the club is a little forward at address. If it's very soft, fluffy sand, you can open the face more, put the ball further toward the front foot, perhaps enter the sand a little further behind the ball – three or four inches – and keep the club moving a little faster. I go by the "3X" rule: If you want to hit the shot 10 yards, you've got to go at like it's 30 yards. So, remember the three "L's" – Lie, Lip and Length – get set up for the shot, quickly hinge and release into the sand and find a wedge with the "bounce" (the distance between the very bottom of the club and the face's leading edge) that feels good to you. UNEVEN LIES AROUND THE GREEN S ometimes you end up missing the green by a few yards and landing in longer rough or perhaps grass, on the side of a hill. Maybe the ball is sitting down a bit. If it's a downhill lie there are several things you need to do depending on where you want to land the ball on the green or fringe and how far away the hole is – which de- termines whether to hit it high and land it soft or hit a low runner. For this downhill pitch, you need to put the ball a little further back in the stance (Photo 8) and the shoulders need to be parallel to the slope (Photo 9). If it's more of a bump-and-run, you need to get closer to the ball and stand taller to reduce arm and hand speed – similar to a putting set-up. Try to just land it just on the green with no spin. It's a little different from a normal chip because you need to widen your stance to keep your balance and swing down the hill (Photo 10). The butt of the club still aims at my belt buckle. If the ball sits up in the grass, you can sweep it; if it's sitting down you need to create more speed to dig it out. If you are short-sided and need to get it up in the air, it's more like a bunker. Add more loft to the club, add more speed and try to land it softer with less roll. If it's heavier grass, that's where more of a "flop" shot is needed with the ball more forward in the stance. The further back you put the ball, the lower it will come out. Don't try to hit a miracle shot, just get it on the green. It should look in your mind's eye like you're tossing the ball toward the hole. The idea is to make 3 from where you are – get it on the green and two-putt for bogey. Mick Soli is a PGA Professional at Mariners Point Golf Center in Foster City. A northern Michigan native who started playing golf in 1961, he earned a golf scholarship to Northern Illinois University where he played in three NCAA championship tournaments. After competing on several mini- tours, he earned his PGA card on the sixth try and played on Tour for seven years (1978-1985). He moved to California in 1986 and played in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on an NCPGA exemption. He is a Golf Digest and Golf Range Magazine Top 50 Instructor. WWW.NCGA.ORG | SPRING 2017 43 9 10

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