Sunday, March 16, 2014

THE MONGOOSE GOLF SWING AND BUNKER PLAY

I advocate striking down on the back of the golf ball on EVERY SHOT except a bunker shot (I’ve covered this in several posts - see Archives below). The intention is to slightly compress the ball by forcing it into the ground (always at an angle - we’re not hammering here). This produces a unique sound & keeps the ball flight lower & thus you don’t have to over torque your body to put plenty of force on the ball to get good distance and better accuracy. This technique of striking the ball generates far more confidence that you can execute a shot. Obviously you have to think about sand differently since it’s soft & if you strike down on the back of the golf ball it will simply bury it deeper in the bunker or go squirting off in some unknown direction. 

So we have all kinds of sand even wet sand. What to do? If the sand is fluffy & dry you can cut across the ball diagonally & by hitting down but with a shallow angle on the club a few inches in front of the ball you can drive the club under the ball and lift it out of the bunker & with the right touch get it fairly close to the hole (I’ll get into wet sand below). The MONGOOSE GOLF SWING is a lever-swing and involves the hands substantially more than the conventional swing at the point of contact. By learning to lever the lower hand and using your left hand as a fulcrum point (think teeter totter) you can amplify the force with little effort. 

Place the ball in the center of your stance (I know the pros do it differently). Visualize your wedge bottoming out just under the ball (as if you’re [scooping] the ball out of the sand) while driving your right hand throw & up as you pull back with your left hand. The action is confined to a much smaller area than taught by those teaching conventional bunker play. You apply a great deal of force by using this levering approach with your hands as opposed to the big wide arc blast that is so common. Don’t try to cut across the ball. Why? Because the tendency is to go too deep into the sand in order to get below the ball. Separate your hands with your right hand below the left (if you’re right-handed) and practice lifting the club straight up as opposed to the typical takeaway (it doesn’t go straight up but that’s the sensation we're after - when deliberately confining the swing plane) and dropping the club head in back of the ball while pushing with your right hand through and up into a finish [while at the same time] pulling back with your left hand (don’t exaggerate this action - not necessary - just practice levering and visualize your hands producing the levering action). Hockey players lever their shot because they’re on slippery ice & have no other means of leveraging their body. Nothing firm to stand on. Start by trying to drop the club behind and under [pennies] placed on an “old” carpet. When they hitting them starts sounding like gun shots you’re on your way.

If the sand is wet (as it gets if you play in the rain) or if the bunkers have been watered (either on purpose or through drainage) but you have a good lie (which you normally do because the sand has impacted or hardened) and you don’t have to lift the ball too much - then do the same thing but with an 8 iron or 9 iron so you can make more contact with the ball FIRST. Allow for these club heads by not overswinging at the ball. Do not hit even an inch in back of the ball in wet sand. And just try to get the ball on the green - don’t try to sink the shot - you’ll have no concentration left for just making good contact with the ball. 

For long bunker shots without obstruction (such as a high bunker lip) use a 5 iron if you think you need a 4 iron. When I’m in a bunker I’m more interested in making good contact with the ball than how far I think I can hit it. I always grip down a bit (maybe an inch) to heighten my grip strength. Concentrate on the ball with your eyes and make solid contact and let the rest take care of itself. I imagine the golf ball is the size of a tennis ball. It seems to help over the last 60-years or so.