Welcome to Teachable Moments, GOLF’s weekly instruction column that will help you improve your game through the excellence and expertise of the Tour stars of the week. Class is now in session.
Champ’s new mindset
Cameron Champ secured his third PGA Tour win last week in Minnesota as he earned a two-shot victory at the 3M Open over Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Jhonattan Vegas. The win represents Champ’s first top 10 in a tumultuous season in which he’s missed as many cuts as he’s made.
After the win, Champ explained the secret to busting a slump had nothing to do with tweaking his technique or altering his swing. Rather, he credited a revamped mindset as the catalyst for his rediscovered success.
With four missed cuts and a WD over his previous five starts before the John Deere Classic, the 26-year-old stepped back and took stock of his life — on and off the course. Champ decided he needed to bring the personality traits he’s known for off the course — cool demeanor, selflessness — and bring them inside the ropes.
“After Detroit I just took a step back and said, ‘You know what, this is enough, I can’t keep going on this way … I have to be true to myself and who I truly am as a person,'” Champ said. “This week I really didn’t get mad at results. If I did get mad, it was more so what I was thinking before that shot and what caused me to hit that shot. So it’s definitely for me a way better perspective as far as how to get around the course.”
With golf being as much mental as it is physical, resets of the mind can make all the difference. It sure did for Champ.
The secret to hitting long greenside bunker shots
There may be no shot in golf more difficult than the 40-yard bunker shot. Although pros can pull off these shots with ease, don’t be fooled — long greenside sand shots aren’t easy.
But even though it might not be easy to hit these shots as well as the pros, you can still use a professional-quality technique. In a video from the PGA Tour, veteran Michael Thompson shared his best tips on long shots from the sand.
“The hard part on long shots from the sand is you want the ball to carry a long way and you don’t want it to run out too much,” Thompson says. “Typically when I have to carry the ball about 20 yards, I take my 56-degree rather than my 60.”
With the proper club selected, Thompson then focuses on his setup. The key, he says, is keeping the weight on his front foot and then keep the ball forward in the stance.
Once it’s time to hit the shot, Thompson takes a steep backswing and then focuses on the follow-through.
“The follow-through is the key,” he says. “If you stop where you hit the sand, you’re just going to dump it a few feet in front of you … All you have to do is swing down and through the sand, and the ball pops right out.”
If you follow these tips and make an aggressive swing, the ball should come out of the bunker with ease and put you in position for a nice sand save.