Once again, the Northern Trust Open proved to be one of the best stops on the PGA Tour. Bubba Watson had an amazing weekend of golf (final 39 holes with zero bogeys!) and a final round 64 ton win by two. That's strong.
But the shot that really seemed to kickstart Watson's charge up the leaderboard happenend on the sixth hole Sunday. After his tee shot found the front left bunker on the 6th hole (the famous green with the bunker in the center), Watson calmly stepped into the trap and blasted the ball out - into the cup for a birdie.
That kept his momentum going strong where he eventually tied and then passed the leaders - and he held on well on the back nine for his 7th career win.
The bunker shot scares most amatuers, but it doesn't have to. I once got a few great bunker tip from Luke Donald, one of the best sand players in the world, and incorporating them into my game and my teaching has made not only getting out of the trap easier, but hitting the ball close to the pin easier as well.
So for this week's A Lesson Learned, inspired by Bubba Watson's great shot on Sunday, here are a few key basic things to remember about getting out of bunkers.
1.) Put the forward in your stance. Think it's far enough forward? Luke Donald says you can't put it forward enough.
2.) Keep the face wide open throughout the swing. Some teachers will you to visualize a cup of water on the clubface and that you don't want to spill it by rotating the face in any direction. You should practice to find the optimal rotation of the face for you out of the trap, but the intent is correct. You want to have the clup open as you splash down into the sand.
3.) You do not hit the ball, you hit the sand behind the ball. Don't try to "pick" the ball out of the trap. The closer you hit to the ball, the more your ball will spin - but regardless, on the greenside bunker shot, you'll want to hit the sand first.
I see too many players who balloon their scores based on one or two shots that find the traps around the green. It doesn't have to be that way. A little practice in the bunker while utlizing these tips should help you feel more comfortable and confident over those shots.
Bill Murchison is a PGA Professional Instructor at Towne Lake Hills Golf Club in Woodstock, GA. Murchison earned his 2013 Web.com Tour card by making it to the Q-school finals and has played in four Professional National Championships and in the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. He has won more than 20 professional tournaments in his career thus far. You can follow him on Twitter at @Bill_Murchison3