This article was created by Steve Thomas and featured in Today's Golfer magazine for their Summer 2020 (June 4th-July 1st) edition - Issue number 401.
The article content:
TOP 50 TEACHER Steve Thomas
www.stevethomasgolf.com, Senior PGA Instructor
at Three Hammers Golf Academy, Wolverhampton
Role model... FRANCESCO MOLINARI
Maiden major winners often seem to struggle to find form after their breakthrough; unfortunately Francesco Molinari is the latest example. His superb victory at the 2018 Open saw his world ranking soar to 6th; today, though, he is down at 28th, with one victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March 2019 presaging a worrying dip in form.
Hopefully, this enforced lay-off will see his confidence-and form return. One bright spot of 2019, though, was his bunker play. Francesco led the sand save stats on the PGA Tour, getting up-and-down almost twice in every three attempts. Here's what you can learn from his simple, effective technique. FACTOR IN SPEED
Sand has been found to absorb more than 85% of energy exerted against it. So what does this mean? Perhaps the grimace on Francesco's face gives a clue! You must play this shot with total commitment, and swing harder than you might anticipate. Hit 10 bunker shots landing the ball beyond the flag. When you start to overdo it, gradually reign the speed in until you find the right landing spot.
CONTROL IMPACT POINT
Like all expert bunker players, Francesco is in complete control of where the club first makes contact with the sand. This point will typically be two-four inches behind the ball. To control your impact point, try drawing a line in the sand, at right angles to your target line, and work on hitting it, creating a shallow divot afterwards. Practice until consistently hitting the line.
SLIDE THE CLUB UNDER THE BALL
Note how Francesco's club head has overtaken his hands. This is done by using his wrists; his bottom hand works under his gloved hand through impact, sending the club head under the ball. This shallows the club's entry into the sand and helps the bounce work. To try this, make a practice swing, holding your finish about chest high: your right palm should be facing you.
USE THE BOUNCE
Using the club's sole bounce angle the difference between its leading and trailing edges is key to bunker success because it stops the club head digging. A simple way to do this is to rotate the face open at address and maintain that open face through impact. Many fear the ball will go right but as you can see with Francesco, it sees the face point more up than right.
FRANCESCO'S 2019 BY NUMBERS
Sand saves: 65.33% (1st)
Driving distance: 288.7 yards (T143rd)
Driving accuracy: 53.01% (207th)
Stroke average: 12.345% (209th)
World ranking: 28th
Written by PGA Professional Steve Thomas
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