Useful lessons you can learn from one of Tiger Woods' iconic bunker shots

January 09, 2020

Mark Ulrikson

Before I explained why you always seem to hit fairway bunker shots fat and what to do about it, let me take you back to the turn of the century. If you’ve got your phone or laptop handy, search “Tiger Woods bunker shot, 2000 RBC Canadian Open.” When I think about the all-time greatest shots, his 6-iron over water from 218 yards on the last hole—which stopped 18 feet from the flag and clinched his victory—is burned into my memory. If you watch it, take a moment to marvel, but also notice how Tiger addresses the ball. He was gripping way down on the club, and that’s a key to fixing your problem.

In the future, grip down on the club enough that your arms feel slightly more extended at address, while the club head still hovers just above the sand. And when you swing, maintain that feeling. Your trail arm will bend some, but the feeling of extension will help keep width in your swing, so you can return the club to the ball before it hits the sand. Just be careful that when you grip down, you don’t stand closer to the ball. That hurts your ability to preserve width. Your swing thought: Keep my arms extended.


Q: I witnessed four aces this season. Is this a record? —Jim Marco, Rochester, N.Y.

A: We’ve come across odd hole in-one records over the years (people hitting from their knees, for example), but witnessing aces is a new one for us. A few years ago, Ron Hirsch of Billings, Mont., got a newspaper write-up after witnessing four in a season. We’ll say you and Ron are tied for the most until we hear otherwise.