September 23, 2009

Swing Along The Slope

It's the key to playing an uphill bunker shot

Get Set: Your spine should be perpendicular to the slope (above, left). You can check it with the shaft of your club. If your spine is too upright (above, right), you'll dig too deeply.

Get Set: Your spine should be perpendicular to the slope (above, left). You can check it with the shaft of your club. If your spine is too upright (above, right), you'll dig too deeply.

Lesson Tee: Tom Watson

To win the '81 Masters (above), I had to save par on No. 17 and outlast Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Greg Norman.

Maybe the best "sandy" I ever made helped me clinch my second Masters green jacket, in 1981. It came on the par-4 17th hole on Sunday, after I was short with my approach shot. I had an uphill lie in the bunker a long way from the hole -- about 45 feet.

Most people leave this shot short because they hit too far behind the ball or take too much sand, or both. The keys are to angle your shoulders at address to match the upslope, then swing up the slope and release the club through the ball. You don't want to hold the face open, as you would on a normal sand shot.

Keep most of your weight on the inside of your right foot so you don't lean into the slope. Play the ball opposite your left instep, with your stance and clubface slightly open. Your right knee should stay kicked in toward the ball. You might try using a stronger grip to help you turn the face over and project the ball forward as well as up.

In that Masters, I flew the ball about 15 feet short of the hole, it ran another 10, and I holed the five-footer for what some people used to call a "Watson par."

Watson is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. Click here for more tips from Tom.