Wesley Bryan saved himself a stroke with an 'opposite-hand' shot in Hawaii. Here's how you can do it, too.
By T.J. Auclair
Long before he was a PGA Tour winner, Wesley Bryan was known as a master of trick shots.
On Friday at the Sony Open in Hawaii, Bryan's former life came in quite handy.
Bryan was in a tough spot after his approach shot to the par-4 first hole at Waialae Country Club in the second round of the tournament. His ball came to rest on the right edge of a left greenside bunker.
Because of the lie being what it was, Bryan really had no chance to attempt his natural right-handed swing. It would have required standing in the bunker, ball about neck level.
So, he improvised.
Bryan addressed the ball left-handed, flipped an iron heel up, toe down behind the ball and pulled off an incredible chip shot.
He would brush in the par putt for the most unlikely of par saves.
As you can see in the video at the top of this page, Bryan pulled the shot off with ease.
So what can you do if you're faced with a similar situation?
We reached out to resident expert Lou Guzzi, 2013 PGA National Teacher of the Year, for answers.
"When I first looked at the video, I wondered, 'how can the average golfer benefit from a shot like this?'" Guzzi said. "In all my years of playing, I've tried a shot like that maybe two or three times. Wesley Bryan -- like all Tour pros -- was prepared for that situation. He clearly had practiced that shot. We should all dedicate at least a little time practicing shots like that, because it could ultimately save you a stroke on the course like it did for Wesley."
While Bryan's shot was greenside, that type of shot, Guzzi explained, might come in more handy for amateurs who find themselves up against a tree.
"It's one of those situations where you try it when there's no chance to hit the ball with you're usual-handed shot," he said. "If you're decent at it, you can advance the ball 10-30 yards. If you're really good at it, maybe 50 yards."
Here are a few tips Guzzi recommended for when you find yourself needing to hit a ball "opposite handed."
1. Don't attempt it unless you've practiced it.
"The reason is twofold," Guzzi said. "The visual and the mechanics are going to feel foreign. If you haven't tried your chipping technique in reverse -- which is what this is -- it's going to be awkward. And then there's that visual of the iron flipped behind the ball with the heel up and the toe down. If you've practiced it and you're sure you can save yourself a stroke, go for it."
2. Focus on taking a small swing.
"The longer the swing from the opposite side, the more potential problems you bring into play," Guzzi said. "Don't take a swing that's longer than your longest chip shot. I'd say nothing where your hands go higher than your hips on either side, size-wise. With that mindset, you could probably pull it off."
3. Your club selection should be between 7 iron and wedge.
"Just like when you practice from the side that's natural for you, those clubs are going to produce different trajectories and the ball is going to react a different way on the greens," Guzzi said. "It's important to be comfortable with the club selection and have an idea of how the ball will react."
Remember, this is not a shot you're going to face often. But if you have it in your arsenal, like Bryan, you'll have a chance to save a stroke.