Here’s a foolproof technique for escaping plugged lies in bunkers

There may not be a more deflating feeling than walking up to a greenside bunker and seeing your ball plugged. The sand is already a difficult hazard guarding the greens — Brendon Todd leads the PGA Tour this season at a hair above 69% — but when your ball catches a nasty lie, there is little hope of getting up and down.

However, there is hope yet on plugged lies if you know the proper technique. That’s where LPGA Tour legend Laura Davies comes in. In a recent video posted on Twitter, Davies shared some insight on how to approach these dreaded shots.

“They’re obviously difficult shots because you have no real control over it,” Davies says.

She explains that she learned this technique from fellow European golf star Ian Woosnam while the two were playing in Japan.

“I thought he was joking,” Davies says. “But it actually works.”

The technique is simple: you hood (close) the clubface severely at address while also taking an ultra-light grip. On the takeaway, take the club well outside your normal path and then blast down on the ball. If done correctly, the clubface will open on impact and the ball will pop out.

“It actually works,” Davies says. “That’s something that Woosy taught me about 20 years ago and I’ve used it many times in tournament rounds. It’s a bit advanced, but give it a go.”

 

Perfect Your Swing From Home

Here in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico the weather is close to perfect, especially for golfers. The winter is the busy season here for the area’s many golf courses making Los Cabos a true golfing mecca. But what if you don’t live in Cabo and can’t play golf year round? Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a golf course or a FullSwing golf simulator in our back yard like Tiger Woods, so how does the average duffer keep their skills sharp during the winter months or during a lockdown? Here are a few tips to help perfect your golf swing so you will be ready for your next round.

Use Your Space Wisely

If you’re lucky enough to have access to your own outside space during the lockdown, take the opportunity to use this to practice your swing. Bear in mind that you don’t actually have to hit a ball whilst you’re simply practicing, so even if you don’t have a large garden but instead have a small terrace or even a balcony, you’ll still be able to head out with your club and work on getting your swing correct.

Likewise, even if you don’t have access to any personal outside space at all, the lack of actually creating any impact with a golf ball will still allow you to practice your swing indoors. Just make sure that you’re in a spacious room away from anything that you could accidentally hit with your club – this includes other people!

Improvise

In fact, you don’t even need to break out your golf clubs in order to practice your swing. Instead, simply filling an empty plastic soda bottle with some water until you’ve reached the same sort of weight as your club will give you a perfect alternative to using your clubs, and will certainly reduce the risk of any accidental damage or injury if you’re practicing indoors.

This is also a fantastic way to teach your kids how to perform a golf swing if they’re getting bored during the lockdown, and means that you can pass on your skills without them having to use your clubs as they practice.

Record Yourself

Another good way to look at how your golf swing is performing is to grab your cell phone or a video camera and record yourself as you practice. This will allow you to easily highlight any imperfections in your posture or movements, and gives you the opportunity to focus on individual mistakes rather than having to focus on your swing as a whole.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask any family members or friends that you’re self isolating with to take a look at your swing as you carry it out. This can also be hugely beneficial in pinpointing any movements that may need adjusting.

Follow the Sequence

Getting out of practice can lead to old habits creeping back in, so whilst you’re taking the time to carry on working on your golf swing during the lockdown, make sure that you’re still following the sequence of movements that make up the perfect swing. We’ve broken these down below into individual chunks, so you can be certain that you’re not missing out any crucial steps.

Posture

Although it’s the one thing that is most commonly forgotten by novice and pro golfers alike, the posture that you adopt when you first step up to the ball is arguably the most important thing to make sure you’re getting correct.

Incorrect posture will set you up for failure before you’ve even begun to raise your club towards the sky, so getting it right is crucial. Make sure that you’re feet are positioned in a way that allows for the size of the club head, and that your weight is evenly distributed between the balls of both of your feet.

Keep your knees bent comfortably, and make sure your torso is pointed directly at the ball (or where you would imagine the ball to be in this case) as you address it.

The Takeaway

Remember that as you begin to raise your golf club skyward, you don’t actually have to do very much at all. Fight the temptation to grab on as tightly as possible or move upwards in a quick, jerking action, and instead simply practice slowly moving your shoulders away from where your target would be, keeping your lower body as still as possible and holding onto your club with a comfortable grip.

The Backswing

At this point you’ll want to make sure that your balance is correct. Your shoulders will be turning as a result of your takeaway, so now is the time to ensure that your feet are still firmly planted on the ground and that your legs are stable. Your weight should also be evenly distributed across the top of your legs at this point, and your right hip should be raised higher than the left.

The Transition

Getting your transition correct will have a huge impact on how the club head meets the ball, so take some time to make sure that you’re carrying it out correctly. To do this, your focus needs to be on your lower body and on your hips, with your currently raised right hip now needs to start rotating back into place and towards your target.

The Downswing

Getting your downswing perfect will ensure that the ball gets exactly where you want it to go upon impact, which in turn will lead you to being able to finish the course in as few hits as possible.

At this point, your grip on the club needs to be relaxed in order to allow it to swiftly flow through the air and have a greater amount of force on the ball, and your body position will also need to be adjusted.

To simplify this, you just need to make sure that your left hip begins to raise as you bring your hands back down and that the majority of your weight has shifted to your left leg. This will allow you to get a good shot at the ball without any stunted force behind the club.

Conclusion

Self isolation and social distancing have definitely taken their toll on our day to day lives, and not being able to get out into the wide open to play our favorite sport has been a struggle to say the least. But, try to take any frustration that the lockdown may be causing and focus it into something constructive. Working on your golf swing is certainly a good place to start!

As you can see, there are still a variety of ways that you can work on your golf swing even if you’re currently unable to get over to the golf course, and when you’re finally able to meet up with fellow competitors again, you’ll be able to amaze them with your finely tuned skills.

When you come to Los Cabos be sure to check out Diamante’s stunning practice facilities and instructors at the Diamante Golf Academy. Two FullSwing Golf simulators, driving ranges, short game areas and a putting course with complimentary weekly clinics for men and women of all skill levels. Come and taste the Diamantelife.

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Contact Lvargas@diamantelife.com for more information.

 

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Spieth Uses Nicklaus’s ‘Winning Formula’ To Win Back To Back Majors

I didn’t have a job at 21, and I didn’t have much focus in life either, which is probably why I filled up a backpack and disappeared for a year. So it comes with plenty of jealousy that at the same age Jordan Spieth has managed to find the secret to success and become a double-major winner.

At the conclusion of the third round Spieth was asked whether he’ll feel the pressure going into the final round of the U.S. Open as joint leader, he responded with a lot of confidence considering the fickleness of the course conditions:

“None, other than I feel like we have a winning formula to close the deal in a major championship.”

Spieth now has four PGA Tournaments wins, two of them majors and you get the impression the big ones don’t even scare him a little now, maybe they never did. Either way they’ve just got a lot easier to win going forward.

Let’s forget comparisons with Tiger Woods. Woods dominated his generation, by the time he won his second major at the 1999 PGA Championship it was already his 11th PGA win.

No one is ever going to be as prolific as Tiger Woods, but one gets the ominous feeling that Spieth’s DNA is aligned in a different direction altogether, a compass heading that Woods himself has been charting over the course of three separate decades.

Spieth is a grinder, he velcros himself to leaderboards and stares his opposition in the face. He doesn’t intimidate, he doesn’t bomb it 340 like Johnson, Day or McIlroy and he isn’t the best iron player either. But he rarely lets things slip, holes putts when he needs to and has a tidier short game than most.

Remind you of anyone?

Jack Nicklaus knew the value of presence, self control and mental toughness. Mentally, there might not be anyone in the game tougher than Spieth and he does it day in, day out every Thursday to Sunday.

In April he closed out the Masters byleading after every day and his reaction while watching Dustin Johnson coming down the last offered at least a glimpse into the steely control he holds on his own game and the confidence he possesses.

Asked how it would have felt had he not won, after double-bogeying the 17th?

“It would have stung a lot, because it was mine. I controlled my destiny, it would have been tough to swallow”

It confirmed the confidence twoven into his game. He expects to win every time he is in contention, he doesn’t want to rely on others’ mistakes, although in the majors this is like a bonus dice roll for him. When in charge of a tournament, he fully expects to finish it.

And when you are in control of your game as often as he is, then it’s up to others to try and stay in control of theirs, and in majors so often they cannot. Exactly the same philosophy that Nicklaus held throughout his entire career. He too found the majors easier to win and he knew only too well that if he took care of his own game, the pressure would take care of others.

Loui Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy couldn’t grind it out for four consecutive days. The pressure took care of Johnson and Branden Grace too. Spieth though, stayed in control for all four days, despite a rare error on 17, he sandwiched it with birdies either side. Importantly, his mistake came with an opportunity to repair it, unlike Johnson whose mistake at the last meant instant knockout.

“I didn’t have that [the winning formula] at Augusta, but this week with perhaps not my best ball striking, combined with Michael’s knowledge of this place, to keep me in it and then to use that winning formula mentally, to stay in the game, when I was out of it for some of the day today, is awesome, it gives a lot of confidence going forward.”

It’s just difficult to get perspective on a kid that has just won the first two majors of the year. The youngest since Gene Sarazan to win two and you have to reach all the way back to 1923 to find a younger US Open Champion, and when you do, you see it’s Bobby Jones!

OK, let’s not get into comparison, because he isn’t Nicklaus either. At least not yet.

The U.S. Open at Chambers Bay looks mighty familiar to those that have bothered to study it!

The immediate reaction on seeing Chambers Bay is that the winner will be the player who can create the most inventive shots, have the visualisation to hit it somewhere other than the target and let the slopes do the rest. This course is a big side-step from the hit-it-straight-or-bleed-out philosophy we have become used to at the U.S. Open.

Rory McIlroy said it rewards the big and brave off the tee, Tiger Woods was keen to stress the variety of options facing the player on every shot. The tall fescue grass is a first, as is the location; no U.S. Open has ever been played on the Pacific Northwest Coast. Weather will be a factor here, especially the wind.

Then there are the hollows, troughs, mounds, hills, slopes, backboards, swales and the odd unfair kick too. But what is a U.S. Open without a touch of unfairness? Pinehurst last year relied on luck when entering its waste/scrub hazards. This time round it will be elemental, Earth, Wind and…Fescue!

“This is a one-of-a-kind site for us at a U.S. Open, there is going to be some players that just love this ground game and love the imagination and embrace it. And then there are other players who just want predictability. They want something right in front of them.”
Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director.

This won’t be the first time a big event has been played here though. In 2010 the U.S. Amateur Championship was held here. It was won by Peter Uihlein who has, unsurprisingly gone on to forge a successful start to his professional career on the European Tour – clearly he knows a thing or too about windy, bouncy conditions!

The wind, the slope and the potential firmness of the bounce will favour a player who is used to the links courses of Great Britain and Ireland; there will be no hitting it high and stopping it on a dime (or should we say a sixpence?).

Uihlein’s approach to winning was key, involving picking a spot, using the contours and keeping the ball as low as possible. Which might give us an idea on who might have a good chance this year.

Last year’s Open Championship winner was McIlroy and he will still be many people’s favorite, but after an early exit on the links of Royal County Down in his self-hosted Irish Open, can he really tame Chambers Bay in the same way he did to Congressional? We might be better served to take a good look at the merits of wind specialists Sergio Garcia, who has a bagful of good finishes at the Open Championship or Rickie Fowler who won the Players. Both players pushed McIlory at Royal Liverpool last year, and both have the vision and the talent to do well again this week.

While the informed might opt for Masters champ Jordan Spieth, those with a feeling for the vagaries of links golf might think he could struggle this week. Then there is defending U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, who loves these newly-designed links challenges. His two major victories have come on windy, sandy-soiled tests at Pinehurst and Whistling Straights, if he’s in the mood this week he could dominate again.

Or could it finally be Phil Mickelson’s year?

What is clear, is that Chambers Bay will be a challenge to everyone teeing it up. It’ll be something they won’t have had much experience of, which was the point of Mike Davis when he suggested that players would be wise to get in early and do their homework, this type of course won’t come round often in the U.S. Open.

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