13 Ways to Fix Your Game: Sand Play and Scoring

13 Ways to Fix Your Game: Sand Play and Scoring

Fix Your Sand Play

Favor your front foot

You’ll solve a lot of your problems from the sand by setting up with most of your weight over your front foot and keeping it there during your swing. Play the ball forward in your stance, and make sure to hit a few inches behind the ball and move the sand—not the ball. If you don’t keep your weight forward, it will almost certainly move back when you swing. And when that happens, chances are good that you’ll leave the ball in the sand.

Keep your weight on your left foot to hit better sand shots. Hang back on your right side and you’ll leave the ball in the sand.

Escape Scott-free

As if Adam Scott isn’t talented enough, he made par from the sand 33% more times in 2006 compared to 2005. How many shots could you save each round if you could get up and down from the sand half the time like Scott?

“I’ve always been a good bunker player, but lately I’ve been working on keeping the club moving through the shot. When you stop the club, you’ve got trouble.”
-John Cook

PGA Tour Most Improved Scrambling Up and Down from greenside bunkers
Player 2005 %/Rank 2006 %/Rank Improvement/Rank
Harrison Frazar 40.3%/180th 54.3%/38th +14.0%/+142
Peter Lonard 41.7%/169th 55.4%/28th +13.7%/+141
Chad Campbell 44.4%/150th 56.8%/18th +12.4%/+132
Adam Scott 39.3%/188th 56.8%/18th +13.1%/+132
PGA Tour Average: 48.9%

Fix Your Scoring

Improve your par-3 performance

You only need one good shot to play a par 3 well. Unless you’re at or near scratch, always play to the middle of a par-3 green. On the tee, stand behind your ball and draw a line from it to the center of the green. As you would for a putt, pick out a spot on that line a few feet in front of your ball, and align your clubface to it. Then, match your toe line to your clubface. It’s an almost foolproof way to create perfect aim and to give yourself the best chance for par — or better.

For better par-3 consistency, pick an intermediate spot a few feet in front of your ball. …then aim over that spot and always for the center of the green.

Watch the Byrd-ie

Jonathan Byrd’s birdie percentage rate on par 3s went sky-high in 2006. Only a handful of Tour pros average par or better on par-3 holes, and Byrd couldn’t be closer to joining that group.

“I’m just thinking better. It got to a point a couple of years ago where every time I’d step on the tee on a par 3 I’d just try to hit the green because I felt like I was going to make a bogey. A more positive, aggressive outlook has made a big, big change.”
-John Cook

PGA Tour Most Improved Par-3 Scoring Average
Player 2005 Average/Rank 2006 Average/Rank Improvement/Rank
Jonathan Byrd 3.14/184th 3.01/11th -0.13/+173
Ted Purdy 3.14/184 3.02/14th 0.12/+170
Hunter Mahan 3.16/195th 3.06/64th -0.1/+131
Steve Flesch 3.13/174th 3.05/51st -0.08/+123
PGA Tour Average: 3.08%