By Tyrus York, SwingFix instructor
Matt Kuchar claimed victory at Harbour Town on Sunday in the RBC Heritage by holing out a greenside bunker shot for birdie on the 72nd hole.
PGA Tour players have the ability to make any bunker shot look routine, especially from greenside bunkers, a place where many amateur golfers tend to struggle.
There are many reasons why Tour players excel from greenside bunkers, and one of the biggest is that they generally don’t have to deal with changing sand conditions.
In other words, the bunkers on the first hole have the same type of sand, consistency and feel as the bunkers on the last hole.
For the average golfer, you never know what you might find in any given bunker. And unfortunately, by rule, there’s nothing you can do to improve the sand conditions once your ball is in there.
Here are some tips to maximize your ability from the sand depite the less-than-ideal conditions you might encounter at times:
• Practice. It should go without saying, but too many golfers I encounter are lousy bunker players because they never practice hitting from a bunker. Dave Pelz did a study that said the average length of a bunker shot was 30 feet. So find a 30-foot bunker shot and practice it over and over.Phil Mickelson would do this until he holed one out. You will then be able to adjust your speed and size of swing based on knowing what it takes to make the ball go 30 feet.
• Make a normal golf swing. By normal I mean with good rhythm and tempo. Avoid the temptation to over-accelerate the club through impact to “blast” the ball out of the sand. Also beware of decelerating the club through impact by being worried about hitting the ball too far. Using the correct size of swing is important in finding the right rhythm and tempo. How do you find the right size of swing? See the practice tip above.
For more tips from Golf Channel to help you improve your sand play, click here.