Two deft shots to keep your round going
ou’re going along playing well, and then the wheels start to rattle. You hit some loose shots and three-putt once or twice, and now it feels like another mistake will end your round. You can tell yourself to stay calm, but in these situations you can control your mind only so much. Some shots, like very difficult greenside recoveries, add tension. You just have to power through, try to get excited about the idea of playing the shot. Two hole outs that led to wins for me this summer—from behind the 10th green at Royal Birkdale at the Open Championship and from a front bunker on the first playoff hole at the Travelers—are times I pulled it off.
When my options are limited, I’m usually hitting lob wedge. What helps my consistency is that I hit a flop shot very similar to how I hit a standard greenside bunker shot. I open the clubface and cut across the ball with loose, fast wrists, letting the clubhead slide past my hands. The best bunker players have several specialty shots, but mastering just two deviations from your standard sand swing will serve you well. I recommend the “chunk-and-roll” and the “nip- spinner.” Practice these to build the nerve to stick them when it counts. They can save your day. —WITH MAX ADLER
Photographs by Walter Iooss Jr. september 2017 golfdigestme. com