Get out in one swing: Breaking 80, Week 6

DON'T GET CUTE—GET OUT! SAVE A FEW STROKE WITH A CONSERVATIVE APPROACH
I know you've probably tried to do this before, but if you want to break 80 you have to learn how to get out of greenside and fairway bunkers on the first try, every time. I'm sure you can go back to numerous rounds and count up the number of strokes you left in the sand, simply because you either couldn't pop the ball out on the first try or you made a tactical error.

The first thing you need to change about your bunker play is your strategy. When you land in a fairway bunker, forget about going for the green. I know it's tempting at times, particularly when you have a good lie, but don't do it. Unless you're supremely confident and competent at these shots, you should simply lay the ball up to a comfortable distance and try to get up and down for par. In a greenside bunker, you should take the same approach. Don't worry about going at the flag— just get the ball out and somewhere on the green. Remember, one of your main goals is to avoid double-bogeys, and these situations are ones in which you are in danger.

HOW TO BLAST IT OUT CONSISTENTLY
Before you begin practicing, you need to make sure you have a wedge with plenty of bounce and plenty of loft. This combination is critical. Then you need to learn to slap the sand out of the bunker. That's all you really have to do, and I recommend practicing with a broken tee or a pebble before you use a ball. Just work on slapping the sand, not digging in, and you'll get the hang of it soon enough.

WEEK 6 DRILL: 10 BALLS OUT
Strategy is one thing, but you stiil have to hit the shot. Believe me, getting the ball out on one try is not very difficult if you put in a bit of practice using the techniques described on the opposite page.

I suggest finding a bunker at your practice range and starting with 10 balls. Line them up with the simple goal of popping each one out on the first try. Don't worry about distance, spin, or even direction. Work on this until you can get at least 8 out of 10 out on the first try. What you'll find is that your fear of the sand disappears because you're not stressed over hitting it close. You'll swing a bit more freely and relaxed. This will improve your results more than if you worked on trying to stick the pin every time.

WEEK 6 ACTION PLAN: (3 HOURS)
1. 10 Balls Out (30 minutes): Find a practice bunker and drop 10 balls in the sand. Hit all 10 with the simple goal of getting each one out on the first try. When you leave one in the sand, start over until you can get all 10 out in a row.

2. Lock in Your Speed (30 minutes): Continue working on your lag-putting skills with the Speed Drill from Week 4.

3. Scoring Club Distance Practice (30 minutes): Perform the wedge drill from Week 1. At this point in the six-week plan, you should have reached your goal of getting at least 70 percent of your wedge shots into a 10-yard radius with each club.

4. Cross-the-Line Drill (30 minutes): Continue working on your go-to drive from Week 2.

5. Pitch/Chip Drill (30 minutes): Continue the drill from Week 3. Get all 10 balls close to the hole.

6. Performance Review (30 minutes): Use the worksheets to see how close you are to each of the goals associated with the five main drills.

BREAK 80 PLANNING WORKSHEETS (PDF)

WEEK 1: DIAL IN YOUR SHORT CLUBS

WEEK 2: DEVELOP A GO-TO DRIVE

WEEK 3: CHIP AND PITCH IT CLOSER

WEEK 4: MAKE MORE PUTTS

WEEK 5: DEVISE A GAME PLAN

WEEK 6: GET OUT IN ONE SWING

Forecast
PGA Tour News
Trips
Travel & Courses
Lessons
Tips & Videos
The Shop
Equipment News & Reviews