Why’d I Do That?

A sim­ple pitch over sand – but in you go

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Play Your Best -

ump­ing a pitch shot short and into a bunker might seem like a ran­dom event, but it hap­pens all the time.There has to be more to it than just nerves, right? Right.

A poor setup and lack of body turn are the ma­jor cul­prits. Make sure you’re not lean­ing away from the tar­get at ad­dress to try to help the ball up.The more you lean back, the fur­ther be­hind the ball you hit. Keep your spine cen­tred above your hips, and play the ball in the mid­dle of your stance. These po­si­tions pro­mote body

Dro­ta­tion and solid con­tact. If you’re us­ing a 60-de­gree wedge, set the face square.You have plenty of loft. If you’re swing­ing a 56-de­gree, open the face slightly to in­crease the loft and bounce, which helps the club slide through the grass.

Fi­nally, make a few prac­tice swings brush­ing the long grass. You want a shal­low an­gle com­ing down. Shift to your front side, and try to sweep the grass with a blend of the arms, shoul­ders and body turn.Then step in and ex­e­cute with the same mo­tion. The fear of chunk­ing a shot into the sand can be self-ful­fill­ing. Coun­ter­act that by plan­ning to fly your pitch shot all the way to the hole. Then, if you tighten up and de­cel­er­ate out of fear, you’ll prob­a­bly still have enough power on the shot to get over the bunker. Make full, force­ful prac­tice swings and then com­mit to re­pro­duc­ing them when it’s go time. —JOSEPH PAR­ENT, PHD, AU­THOR OF ZEN GOLF At the Open Cham­pi­onship at St Andrews in 1995, Costantino Rocca came to the 72nd hole need­ing a birdie to tie John Daly and force a play­off. Rocca’s drive left him with a pitch over a deep swale known as The Val­ley of Sin. He hit it fat, leav­ing his ball in the swale, but then mirac­u­lously holed a 60-foot putt, fall­ing to his knees in cel­e­bra­tion. Daly won the play­off, but Rocca’s putt is the last­ing mem­ory. Rick Smith



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