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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Steve, Ernie, and Luke on the Beach

With all our talk about sand play and the changes at Bay Hill, I thought this would be a good time to look at a few of the best players in the game playing on the beach. To that end, I have two videos; the first shows both Steve Stricker and Ernie Els. Stricker ranks 84th in sand saves at 50%, Els ranks 12th at 64.52%.

Only 8 players rank above my magic number of 67%; that list is topped by Luke Donald at 88.89%. Here's Donald at Riviera earlier this year:

Now, you can run these videos several times and study them, but I want to point out one thing they all have in common that goes against what you will generally hear taught: All three have slow swings. They aren't trying to "accelerate" the club through the sand. While consciously trying to accelerate the club may be useful under certain conditions, the fact is that a dropped club will accelerate because gravity is a constant acceleration. Unless you try to slow it down, your swing will accelerate; and this accelerating swing will probably feel as though you are swinging at a constant speed. This is simple physics.

If you want to improve your sand game, a good place to start is by making a "slow" swing. If you need to hit the ball farther, just make a longer swing. If you do this, you will have more consistent contact with the spot in the sand that you're aiming for, so you'll get out of the sand more consistently.

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