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Tiger Tips

This bunker method helped Tiger Woods hit one of the best shots of his career

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December 11, 2023

Ask most golfers what the best shot they ever hit was, and it probably won't take them long to answer. They'll recall a specific shot, and regale you with the context of how it came to be.

Tiger Woods, as he is with many things, has a few different options to choose from. His Old Course 3-wood jumps to mindOld Course 3-wood jumps to mind, as does the 3-iron fairway bunker shot at the 2002 PGA Championship.

But for me, it's the bunker shot on the 72nd hole of the 2000 Canadian Open. 218 yards from a fairway bunker over water to a tucked pin, which won him the tournament.

Back in 2001, Golf Digest asked him about that shot, and what golfers can learn from it. Turns out, quite a lot.

(You can check out the full article in our Golf Digest Archive right here,Golf Digest Archive right here, by the way).

"It seemed like a miracle shot, but believe me, it was more dramatic than it was difficult," he said.

That's because of a few simple keys that the rest of us would do well to remember:

1. Ball in the middle of your stance

"Solid contact is crucial when playing a fairway bunker shot," Tiger writes. So all the tweaks he makes involve ensuring solid contact.

The first of those is moving the ball back in your stance slightly, which will help the club hit the ball first, before the sand.

2. Raise your chin

The only swing thought golfers should have through the ball, Tiger says, is to "stay tall through impact." A simple way of doing this, Tiger writes, is to "raise your chin slightly just before starting your backswing."


3. Club up

Tiger also makes clear that you should take at least one more club from fairway bunkers than you ordinarily would. Probably more like two. For reasons we're about to find out...

4. Dig in

One of the hardest things about swinging off sand is that it's an extremely unstable surface. Your feet are prone to sliding around. So, to prevent this, dig your feet into the sand.

5. Choke down

Once you've dug your feet into the sand, it's time to choke down on the grip. Tiger uses a pretty simple formula for this:

"I choke down on [the club] in direct proportion to how much I dig my feet into the sand—usually about half an inch."

6. Slow down

Both those things alone are enough to make taking some extra club the right move, as is Tiger's final tip:

"I decrease my swing speed by about 30 percent," he writes. "This not only increases accuracy but also allows me to keep my balance."

The combination of all of these things can upgrade your fairway bunker game, and provide the foundation for one of the best shots of Tiger's career.

Once again, you can check out the full Golf Digest archive right here.