For most amateur golfers, getting out of the bunker and sinking the putt is difficult enough; add the pressure of a U.S. Women’s Open title, throw a water hazard just beyond the hole, and even the professionals begin to sweat.
Ariya Jutanugarn was able to keep her cool and got up and down from a below average lie to capture her first U.S. Women’s Open title and second major championship on Sunday at Shoal Creek. All players can learn from the execution of Ariya’s winning shot.
A player’s first objective when facing any bunker shot is to get out and on the green. Sometimes, even at the highest level, that is all a player needs. Ariya found her ball in a subpar lie nestled in heavy sand with the green running away. The length of the of the shot was only exacerbated by the water hazard just beyond the hole. However, the shallow bunker face allowed her to play a shot that barely carried onto the green and then rolled out like a putt.
How did she do it?
This shot is often referred to as a chunk-and-run. Unlike the majority of bunker shots we see, the player has no intention of flying the ball the majority of the distance to the hole with spin. Instead, with a slightly different setup, the player enters the sand a little steeper and further behind the ball and taking more than the normal amount of sand. Contacting the sand earlier ensures the carry distance of the shot is shorter, it dissipates any spin and promotes the ball to roll out.
Try this next time you are faced with a similar shot:
- Place the ball slightly forward of center and square the clubface. Make sure to enter the sand steeply and put the CHUNK in the chunk-and-run.
- While taking an open stance shift the majority of body weight to the lead side (left for righthanded golfers)
- ACCELERATE through the shot! While the follow through won’t be long, you will need the clubhead speed to move through the excess sand you take while making this shot.
Remember, this shot is all about where the ball lands. Taking more sand will shorten the carry distance and swinging harder impacts the amount of roll. Adjust these variables to fit the scenario you are facing.
Aaron Ungvarsky, PGA