Photo by Steve Erana
By Steven Troup
Although the serenity of Al Mouj makes for an enjoyable game around a spectacular layout, Greg Norman’s course can certainly bite back if you hit any errant shots into the greens. Even a small miss when you attack a tight pin can leave you in some very thick grass.
To avoid the potential card wrecking score that could ensue, implement the following to escape the thick stuff with ease. The key is to first understand that long grass will decrease clubhead speed upon contact. In addition, the clubhead will close due to the shaft and hosel getting tangled up in the grass. This will, in turn, lessen any chance of getting clubhead speed into the ball as well as getting the ball to launch up high enough. —with Kent Gray
SET UP FOR STEEPNESS
To avoid getting tangled in a lot of the long grass and get the ball out, you must create a steep angle of approach down into the ball. First, feel that you are adding roughly 60-70% more weight on our front foot and then situate the ball further back in our stance than normal.
Although you will need a high lofted wedge for this shot, you still want to create a lot more loft by opening up the clubface. Like any bunker shot where you elect to open the clubface, focus must be put on rotating the grip in our hands and then holding and NOT twisting the arms and hands to get the club into an open position. This will ensure that we are able to return the club to the ball in the downswing with still plenty of loft.
GO BIG FOR MORE SPEED
As mentioned, the club will lose a lot of speed as you move down into the ball. To combat this, make a good-sized swing. Small hip height swings will rarely give you enough clubhead speed and will result in most attempts being left in the long grass. It may well be a scary feeling being so close to the hole and taking such a big backswing but if you trust the extra loft and that the grass will slow the club down you can swing big and attack the ball with power.
STAY FORWARD AND COMMITTED
When attempting this shot, resist any temptation to lean back away from the target in a false effort to get the ball higher. That is only going to shallow the angle of approach and will result in hitting even more grass than you should. Keep the weight forward and hit down hard. You will feel the club snag up in the grass and that will cause the extra loft you had added at address to reduce somewhat. If you want to keep a bit more control over the position of the clubhead, you can always increase your grip pressure. This is not an ideal thing to do in any regular swing but here it can provide a positive improvement.
FINISH LOW AND SHORT
Expect to have a much lower and shorter follow-through given all the effort you have put into getting the clubhead to travel down steeply into the ball, plus the resistance of the clubhead slowing through the long grass. Use the energy in the swing to get that club down through the grass and into the ball, not on trying to swing through into a big high finish.
Like Tiger Woods had famously said: “I don’t try a shot on the course without practising it and knowing that I can pull it off” so experiment with this shot first. When you are next out on the course and see a similar spot, drop a ball or two down and see how you go. You never know, you might just need it in the future.
Steven Troup is a PGA teaching professional at Al Mouj Golf. For more information, visit almoujgolf.com