||Position 1 - The Address:
Notah Begay is faced with a difficult shot of about 160 yards to the green from a large
fairway bunker. Not only does he have quite a distance to carry the ball to the green,
he's required to execute the shot from a lie where the ball is below his feet.
Even though he has an uneven lie, the ball is sitting up on top of the sand and
|he doesn't have to negotiate a
high lip -- which is a green-light situation to fire at the putting surface. Since the
fairway bunker shot requires a slightly shorter swing and less lower body movement, Notah
will select one more club than he normally would for this distance.
Notah has gripped down about an inch on the handle to make sure that he doesn't dig into
the sand before striking the ball. He's widened his stance slightly to lower his center of
gravity and to create a stable base to support his swing. His ball is positioned in
the middle of his stance and he's dug in with the left foot.
These setup adjustments help him to be sure to strike the ball first, then the sand. You
can see that he's aimed left of the flagstick or toward the middle of the green. This is a
good strategy because the ball tends to drift to the right from a hanging lie.
||Position 2 - Top of Swing:
Notah has made a three-quarters arm swing for this fairway bunker shot. Clean contact,
power is not his objective. Because he's taken an extra club for the shot, a
three-quarters swing should generate just the right distance for the shot. The ball below
his feet causes the shape of the swing to be slightly more upright than normal. The
uneven lie also makes it
|important to maintain the same
knee flex as the address position to ensure solid contact with the golf ball. His lower
body is fairly quiet. Any movement is in response to the swinging of his hands, arms and
golf club, and the pivot of his upper torso.
||Position 3 - Impact
The goal of the fairway bunker shot is the exact opposite of a greenside bunker shot: to
hit the ball before the sand. There are two primary causes of poor fairway bunker shots:
Swinging too hard and trying to lift the ball out of the sand. Both of these mistakes
will increase your tendency to strike the ball inconsistently. You can see here how Notah
|hit the ball and then grazed the
sand through impact. Again, his lower body plays a supporting role in this shot and his
swing is generated primarily with his upper body. His weight, however, is on his left
leg as he strikes the ball.
||Position 4 - Finish
Notah hasn't tried to get too much out of this shot by overswinging as many recreational
golfers tend to do. You can see evidence of his smooth, controlled swing because he's made
a full, well-balanced finish. Even though the swing is made primarily with the upper
body, his lower body has pivoted toward the target and his weight is on his left
side. You can see even at the
|finish, Notah has made sure he's
maintained the same knee flex throughout the shot, which accounts for his solid contact
with the golf ball from this hanging lie. The last thing he wants to do is stand up
out of the shot and blade or top the ball into the greenside bunker. Like you, top PGA
TOUR professionals don't hit the ball perfectly every time. They miss fairways and
greens. But players like Notah Begay know how to play a number of different shots
like this one that help them squeeze every ounce out of their game -- and help them excel
on the PGA TOUR.
Begay's back-to-back victories
|FedEx St. Jude Classic
Greater Hartford Open