Links Style Bank Shot
The dog days of summer are here. Sun-baked fairways can do wonders for driving distance, but firmer, faster conditions can also present a whole new set of unexpected challenges.
Consider, for example, the case in which you short-side yourself around the green. In the springtime and fall, missing an approach on the "wrong" side of the hole is rarely a huge issue. Greens are typically soaked with moisture and receptive enough to hold short shots and keep them in check.
In late July and August, however, leaving yourself short-sided can be a recipe for disaster. That pitch shot that left you a tap-in for par in May is now trampolining on its first bounce and jetting across the green. Your gimmee is now a 50-foot two-putt to save bogey. Speed kills when you don't have a lot of green to work with.
Fortunately, we had the foresight to squirrel away some valuable resources that may come in very handy now that courses are playing their speediest. Leading up to this year's Masters, Titleist staff member Cameron McCormick was kind enough to share a number of specialty shots that players would need to rely on at Augusta National, including several shots like the Links Style Bank Shot above, that are particularly useful in situations where you've left yourself short-sided – an all-too-common occurance at The Masters and one that becomes more difficult for all of us as the temperature rises.
Give these escape shots from Cameron a try and let us know how they help you to avoid those big numbers when you're on the wrong side of the hole this summer.
And to bring your game from good to great, and from great to world-class, be sure to check out the instructional programs Cameron has to offer at Altus Performance.
Keys for the Carom Shot into the Bank
- Setup – more pressure in lead foot.
- Lean the shaft forward at address with the ball position back of center.
- Aim to bump the ball into a point mid-way up the slope.
- Keep the hands ahead of the club head through impact to make contact with the ball first and generate spin.
- Accelerate through the shot but finish low to keep the ball low.
- The ball will ricochet up the slope and bounce a second time near the top of the slope, where the spin on the ball will take hold and slow its pace as it releases to the hole.
“If you opt for a bank shot, it’s risky to use a low-lofted club because you’re relying on the slope alone to kill the ball speed. Instead, use a higher-lofted wedge that you can still deloft and hit low. The wedge lets you put a lot more spin on the golf ball, which will help the ball to grab and release gently once it reaches the top of the bank.” - Cameron
Wide, Sliding Spinner
Keys for a Low-Flying, High-Spin Escape
- Club selection - consider a high lofted wedge with less bounce if you’re consistently playing on very firm, tightly mown turf.
- Widen your stance to promote a flat swing arc.
- Work the handle back and through with very little hinge – promotes a flat trajectory and lots of spin to stop the ball quickly once it hits the green.
“Many holes at Augusta National feature immense false fronts. Hole No. 14, “Chinese Fir” is a good example. If you fire at a right pin on your approach and come up short, you’ll watch in agony as your ball rolls down a massive shoulder to a tightly mown collection area. To get up and down you need a lot of spin and you also need a shot that reliably allows you to cover the proper distance, so you don't find yourself rolling down the slope again.” - Cameron
Dead-Handed Bunker Technique
Keys for a Bunker Shot that Stops on a Dime
- Setup – more pressure into lead side to ensure that the club bottoms out closer to the ball.
- Lots of loft on the clubface – want the club face to work against the bottom cover of the ball vs. letting the energy get into the core.
- Use lots of speed, but swing wide on the backswing, without much wrist-*** and stop short in the follow-through, almost a 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock action.
- Think of tugging a tablecloth off a table quickly enough to leave the plates and silverware on the table.
“Working with very limited green, you need a shot out of the sand that stops quickly. Spin is the key and the secret to getting a lot of spin from the sand is to be fast and shallow. What you want to establish is the opposite of the chunk-and-run, where you chop down steeply and take a lot of sand. In that shot, the ball almost knuckles as it comes out and rolls a good deal when it hits the green. As you’ll see in my practice swings, the dead-handed technique takes just a small sliver of sand in the divot and gets the clubface to apply much more spin to the cover of the ball.” - Cameron
Front Loft Wedge Technique
Keys for a Reliable Lob that Stops Short
- Set up with a neutral base and establish loft at address.
- Not a lot of hinge on backswing.
- Hand action through impact is the key – let the club head move under the handle and release past the hands.
- Feel like your trail hand is tossing the ball underhand up to the hole.
- Ensures that you apply enough force to carry the appropriate distance and it allows you to control the ball once it lands with a combination of trajectory and spin.
“Juniper”, the 6th hole at Augusta National, provides a great example of how well the course employs slope and green contour as a defense. When the pin location is back right on this downhill, 180-yard par-3, players have to land a mid-iron shot inside an area the size of a picnic table. If they come up short, the ball will hit a steep slope and roll all the way off the front of the green to a collection area that presents a similar challenge to the one they just faced on the tee. To recover, you can putt it, or bump it into the bank, but employing the front loft technique improves your odds of getting the golf ball to stay back up on the shelf.” – Cameron
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BONUS: Click below to check out another great Masters-inspired tip from Cameron:
Downhill Wedge Off a Tight Lie