Don’t Let These Shots Get In Your Way

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Majors always showcase how difficult a course can be and how much game you need to have to navigate it. One way to make a course challenging is by making it difficult around the green. This can happen with deep rough or soft/hard sand conditions. Here are 3 scenarios that PGA Tour players will see around the greens during majors.


Deep Rough

Deep rough around a green can be daunting. Especially for amateur players who don’t practice their short game. Thick grass will grab the club as it comes down onto the ball and shut (twist) the clubface. This will de-loft the club and cause a lower trajectory shot more left of the target. To avoid this from happening, try using a high-lofted wedge. One with a square or slightly open clubface works best. Aim to the right of your target with the club (your body will always remain open on shorter shots). Hinge the wrist and maintain as much speed coming down to pop the out of the rough. The golf ball will have more spin than normal. There is a significant amount of grass between the clubface and the ball, so the shot will run more than normal. Another option is to take a lower lofted club and with a short, quick hit down on the ball.  Both of these shots you should play the ball in the back of your stance to provide a descending blow.


Buried In The Bunker (aka The Fried Egg)

We’ve all been there. Your shot ends up in a bunker and it’s plugged into the face, or even worse…the downslope. Often these type of lies occurs when there is a significant amount of sand in the bunker. To play this shot, begin with a slightly open stance to the target. Close down the clubface so that it points to the left of the target as well. Like the shot out of deep rough, a plugged lie in the bunker requires speed and balance. Play the ball slightly forward of the middle in the stance with 60% of your weight on your front foot. To create speed, you’ll need a large backswing with early wrist hinge. This will have the club pointed vertically. On the follow through, drive your trail shoulder (right shoulder for a right-handed player) toward your target. Doing this will insure that the club will be traveling with enough velocity to get the ball out of the bunker.


Wet & Hardpan Sand

Playing in wet sand is difficult and playing in dry packed sand is even tougher. Anyone who has played Pinehurst #2 understands exactly what firm, dry sand is like. For wet sand, you’ll want to think the opposite of a traditional bunker shot. Don’t splash the ball out, rather, pick it clean with just a small bit of sand behind the ball. For longer bunker shots (40 – 50 yards)  a gap wedge or even pitching wedge will work better because of the lower bounce angle. When short sided with a wet bunker lie, a quick wrist hinge is key for generating the proper angle of attack. Open the face and try cut under the ball with an out to in swing path to generate as much spin as possible. Dry firm sand requires even more precision but the same principals can be applied.  Try to hit a half inch behind the ball as steeply as possible.

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Alan Unruh, PGA

Alan Unruh is a Class “A” member of the PGA of America, and holds PGA Certifications in General Management, Golf Operations and Player Development. With these certifications, he is among the 1% of PGA members that hold multiple PGA Certifications. He has a profound passion for the game of golf along with extensive experience and knowledge regarding planning and strategy for golf operations, rules of golf, tournament operations and golf swing fundamentals. Alan has also played a crucial role helping manage multiple high profile tournaments throughout his career including the USGA Women’s U.S. Open, PGA and LPGA Tour events, and multiple NCAA and AJGA events.

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