Bill Haas’ FedEx Cup-Winning Water Shot

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

Playing a ball successfully from a hazard anytime is great; getting it up and down during a tournament round is exceptional; pulling it off in a playoff to help you win the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup — that is otherworldly! And that is exactly what Bill Haas was able to do in 2011.

As we hear from Haas in the highlight clip, “I knew exactly what type of shot I needed to play,” which is why he was able to play fast and with confidence.

The shot is very similar to a bunker shot from wet and heavy sand. Next time you find your ball on the edge or just in a hazard with half or more of the ball above the water level, give it a go following these steps.

The Setup

  • Select a wedge with minimal bounce and a high loft. A 60-degree wedge is ideal, which is what Haas chose. We need the leading edge to be able to interact and travel deep into the terrain below the ball that is already submerged. If we have too much bounce, the trailing edge of the club will limit the ability of the cub to dig into the mud.
  • Take a wide stance to secure your foundation inside the hazard, providing stability as you are going to need to generate above-normal clubhead speed for a greenside shot. Position the ball in the center of your stance or slightly forward depending on the quality of stance you are able to take within the hazard or unusual condition.
  • Align your hips and shoulders well right of the target and open the clubface to point at or very near the target.
  • Finally, set your hands even or slightly ahead of the ball so the shaft is leaning forward. Maintain the shaft angle by keeping your hands ahead of the club into impact. Letting the club pass your hands too early will result in hitting well behind the ball, a poor outcome and you wearing a lot of mud

The Shot

  • The body motion of this shot is driven by rotating your upper body more than you normally would for a shot of the distance at hand. By rotating the upper body to a full turn, you are able to generate the speed needed to power through the mud and water and still move the ball with a lofted wedge.
  • As the body turns, make sure to hinge your wrists and work the club along a plane that is upright. This will help to properly transition into a steep angle of attack into the ground about an inch behind the ball.
  • The goal is to swing to a full finish. However, the material we contact before the ball and through impact will dictate exactly how far we are able to swing through. Still, always have the goal of a full finish to eliminate any tendency of decelerating on the way down.
  • Focus on the spot you want the club to make contact. This helps to keep your head steady and your body down and through the strike as opposed to standing up and trying to help lift the ball. Both are key factors in helping you execute this Tour-caliber shot.

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