Short Game

Chunk it and let it run

By Fred Couples Photos by J.D. Cuban
June 27, 2010

I try to take a lot of sand on greenside bunker shots. Instead of skimming the sand under the ball, I'm taking more sand than ever. I used to spin these shots so they'd fly all the way to the hole and check up, but now -- when there's enough green to work with -- I play the chunk-and-run. With more room for error, it's a better shot for most amateurs, too.

When I say "a lot of sand," I mean the depth of the divot, not the length. When you really dig the club in the sand, like I do, the follow-through is shorter. The ball won't fly as far but will roll more. There's less backspin, so you don't have to worry about where it's going to grab. The roll-out is consistent -- the ball rolls like a putt -- so it's easy to predict.

The key to not hitting it too heavy and leaving it in the bunker is to make sure that you accelerate through the ball. You have a lot of dense sand to get through, so keep the clubhead moving forward. Don't quit on it.

I've hit enough of these shots by now that I don't really get too technical -- it's mostly feel. I grab my 60-degree wedge and get in an open stance, with the ball just ahead of center. Then I look where I want to land the ball, usually just onto the green, and chunk it to that spot. Try it in the practice bunker to get a feel for distance control.

Fred Couples has won 15 events on the PGA Tour and three on the Champions Tour.