Problem Solvers

By Craig Bestrom Photos by John Loomis
February 05, 2015

If hitting perfect golf shots were as simple as tour players make it sound and as effortless as they make it look, we'd all be scratch players. The beauty of pro-ams and corporate outings like the annual Audemars Piguet event pictured here is the opportunity for amateur golfers to learn from some of golf's greatest players. At Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., that meant golfers got to play alongside Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter as well as Victor Dubuisson, Keegan Bradley, Nick Faldo, Darren Clarke and more. One thing we've learned from these events is that if you're ever fortunate enough to play with a tour pro, follow these two words of advice: Ask questions. We did, and here's what we picked up.


The No. 1 rule when you get into trouble but are lucky enough to find your ball is to make sure your next shot gets you out of trouble. There are times when you can try the low-percentage shot, but the goal for most amateurs should be to make clean contact and put the ball in better position for your next one. When you're under a tree and have to keep the ball below the branches, find the easiest way out, grab your 5-iron, move the ball a little back in your stance, and take a short swing with the intent to make solid contact and bunt it back to the fairway. Dropping one shot isn't so bad, and you might even manage to save par.



Next time you're in a deep bunker and need to hit a high pop-up that stops quickly, I'll bet you can do it with little more than my simple grip adjustment. I just weaken my grip by rotating my right hand a little bit counterclockwise. My left hand stays in a strong position. Then I open my stance slightly with my left foot, put about 70 percent of my weight on that left side and swing down the target line. With the ball just forward of center, the clubhead will do all the work and pop the ball straight up and onto the green. For a little more release, I play the ball in the middle of my stance and don't weaken my grip.



We see more of this knee-high grass in the U.K., but my tip works anytime you're in deep rough. If you're blessed with decent swing speed, you'll have an easier time with this shot, but every golfer should focus on two things: getting as much club on the ball as possible and hitting with enough loft to push it out. To hit down on the ball, play it a couple of inches farther back, and set more weight on your front foot. Hinge the club up quickly on the backswing, and then pounce down on it. Don't be afraid to chop some grass. The ball will come out lower than normal, so make sure you're using a club that can get it out of the lie. You'll feel like a hero ripping one out of here. Problem—solved!