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Sand Trap Escape Tricks

What is the main reason why we fail to make perfect shots out of the sand trap? Sand condition, slope of the sand, distance of your hit and height of the trap lip are all variables that you are trying to overcome. They all affect your decision for the amount of power and loft needed during your swing. RUSHING your swing speed is the killer for every sand shot. Club acceleration to a full follow-through makes all the difference.

Because your shoulders, arms, wrists, hips and spine are all moving during every swing, if we slow down or speed up a swing, we lose our sequencing rhythm. Yes, we forget to move our hips or transfer our weight and end up hitting fat or thin shots. Consistency of the motion of our swing in the sand trap is our #1 killer. We are focused on longer or shorter shots from the sand when we SHOULD BE FOCUSING on the amount of backswing and FULL follow-through with an accelerating swing speed.

Make a full follow-though with your swing and throw that sand.

Ensuring Sand Trap Consistency
Knowing the right setup is a critical starting point but you will never be consistently successful unless your complete both a backswing and a full follow-through to finish the shot. You have to think about your complete swing. Make sure that you pound down under the sand and take at least 3 inches of sand after your ball with your follow-through. Yes, make sure that you are throwing a club full of sand with your ball. Focus on lifting an imaginary quarter sitting in the sand after your ball. “Take the quarter” and finish your follow through.

1/ Take an open stance and open your club face so that it’s parallel with the sand (pointing up to the sky).
2/ Put pressure on your leading foot so that your nose stays over your ball in the center of your stance with your grip pointed at your bellybutton. [Do this forward pressure because most of you will never transfer your weight to your leading foot during your sand trap shots.]

Lift your ball on a carpet of sand. [Pretty cool photo.]

3/ Take a wider stance or dig your feet down into the sand for stability and to ensure that your swing will slide under the sand beneath your ball to lift it on a carpet of sand. /

The amount of backswing and follow-through should be the same but the further you want your shot to go the longer the backswing and follow-through. Burying your club in the sand without any follow-through is the kiss of death for sand shots. Make sure that you throw some sand on the green with your follow-through. Practice with GOLFSTR+ to limit your wrist lag on your trailing wrist the same way you want to make a pitch shot. Buy one today at

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Is Your 60% Swing Killing Your Approach Shots?

What is a best swing solution?  Taking a full speed swing with an 8 iron or a slower swing using a 6 iron at 60% of your swing speed?   Both can be the right answer depending on the situation but there is a problem that you have to overcome.  If most of your shots are made with your full speed swing, how do you properly GEAR DOWN to hit a three quarter speed or half speed or quarter speed swing without leaving your club face open or closed and hitting your shot well wide of your target?

You may not realize that when you slow down your swing, your hips, shoulders, arms and hands should be firing at the same consistent rate as your full swing.  When just one part of your body gets out of sync you can’t help but leave your club face open or closed.  That’s why you may notice that the pros seem to swing all of their clubs at about the same speed until they are too close to the green.  That’s also why pros use up to 4 different pitching wedges?

Swing Speed is generated by whipping your wrist release while your arms rotate at 85%.

Solution to Maintain a Full Swing:

Pros want to swing at their “normal” full swing speed FOR CONSISTENCY.  That’s not at 100% or 90% of their swing speed.  They are not trying to kill the ball with their top swing speed. They know that it will often guaranty a poor shot.  They want to swing at their normal 85% swing speed for consistency and to control the speed of their wrist release (whooosh).

Pros know when they are hitting a distance that is between clubs.  They have to either back off on their speed risking a mishit or they adjust their club.  They want to keep their “normal” swing speed AND RHYTHM, so they choke down on clubs for less distance and swing at their normal 85% speed.

Solution to Adjust for a Partial Swing Speed:

Pros like Jason Day hit up to 600 balls a day on non-tournament days.  They need the extra practice time to consistently release their hips, shoulders, arms and hands for each speed that they need to hit each club for a variety of distances while keeping the same sequence and rhythm for each of their body parts.  YOU DON’T HAVE THE PRACTICE TIME THAT THE PROS DO so don’t expect that you can achieve a variable swing the way they can swing.

If you have to slow down your swing to hit a shorter distances, practice hitting with a slightly open stance and more pressure on your leading foot to help you reach your normal impact position.  Just focus on finishing your swing from the inside and straight up your target line.

“Ball Beating” at the driving range is crazy for the Weekend Warrior.  Practice different shots.  Learn to hit a few draws, a few fades, a few full swing and half swing shots with many of your clubs.  Seve Ballesteros learned to play every shot with 1 club when he was a young boy.  That’s a great example for all of us.  Practice with GOLFSTR+.  It’s a great training aid to learn 6 swing solutions with a controlled swing speed.  Buy one today at

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McIlroy Agrees: Practice for Better Golf

How can you play better golf with LESS practice?  The short answer is that practice can only help. If you are a Weekend Warriors and want to lower your scores, you better find a way to build consistency into your swing WITHOUT a lot of practice. Let’s face it, if your income is not based on being a scratch golfer like Rory McIlroy, you will never find the time to hone your perfect swing for every club. So what’s the best solution to improve your game?

I received a great article from Augusta Golf about the merits of practice. Ben Hogan was famous for practice. It’s the only way to become a master of any sport. Swing technique, strength, flexibility and mental fortitude all contribute to your successful game. He was right so if you want to lower your scores with limited practice , break the 4 areas of focus into a logical plan.

Simple techniques like keeping your head down as you impact your ball. The Star really caught Rory in the perfect picture of perfection.

Technique:  Let’s face it, if you have a lousy swing and your technique is bad, you will never be able to consistently hit a golf ball with any of your clubs. You need to take golf lessons from a professional instructor.  PGA instructors will set your game up in the right direction and can easily point out the problems with your swing. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to figure out how to improve your swing.  Just understand your flaws and work on correcting your swing.

Ben Hogan’s clubs did not have the technology that exist in any 10 year old clubs that you may be using today so don’t expect that a new set of clubs will solve all of your problems. I recently saw a blog about “air swings” where you practice your swing without hitting a ball. It’s a good start but you really need to hit a ball at the driving range to focus on your swing path at the point of impact and see the result.

Strength and Flexibility:
Don’t ignore this important step in developing your full swing and stamina. If you don’t have the strength and flexibility of a teenager you need to put some effort into getting in reasonable shape or your will never be a good golfer. Golf is a sport that demands a lot from your body so choose exercises to build your upper body and core. You can’t expect perfection from your swing if you can’t develop a consistent rhythm and swing speed.

Mental Fortitude:
Tiger Woods is the perfect example of a person who was committed and focused to win at golf until his marriage scandal happened. He lost his “Mental Fortitude”. None of us will ever approach the skill and drive that Tiger once had but we can improve our game at the same time that we build our confidence in creating a more consistent game. Positive Mental Attitude goes a long way to create consistent hits.  Rory McIlroy bounced back and it just paid off with $15 Million and most likely 10 times that in endorsement.

Reading Blogs like GOLFSTR Swing Tips will help you keep your mental focus on golf so that you can find the right formula for your game.  Consistency, more power and confidence will lower your score. Practice with GOLFSTR+ for 6 swing solutions. Buy one today at

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Weight Shift is Critical for Power

If you don’t shift your weight back in your backswing and then forward during your transition, you are robbing yourself of power and performance. If you get it right, you can generate more hip and shoulder rotation (for power) and the correct angle of impact (for performance and consistency). In other words, weight shift creates the ideal swing for your driver, woods, hybrids and irons. A recent Rotary Swing Blog reminded us why this is so critical.

BACK SWING: If you don’t allow your weight to shift slightly to your trailing leg during your backswing, it will limit your hip rotation. Don’t depend on only using your spine rotation for power or you will eventually ruin your back. By shifting your weight to your trailing leg it is much easier to rotate your hip AND spine.

Keep more weight on your trailing leg during your backswing and shift the weight to your leading leg as you blast off with your downswing through impact.

As you near the transition at the top of your swing, allow your wrists to cock and create a 90 degree lag angle. You need that extra time in your backswing to allow for all 4 components to connect in SEQUENTIAL UNISON. You may want to count “1, 2” to slow down your backswing like Ernie Els:
1/ your weight shifts to your trailing leg as your straight arm starts your backswing.
2/ allowing your hips to rotate
3/ as your spine continues your coiling rotation
4/ and your wrists cock. [Without wrist lag, you will lose at least 30% of your distance.]

DOWN SWING: Your power only comes from the acceleration of your club head as you uncoil and finally release your wrist lag at the bottom of your swing through impact. You may want to count “3” as you complete your downswing in this sequence:
1/ During your transition (at the top), your arm direction changes as your weight shifts from your trailing leg to your leading leg.
2/ as your hips and then shoulders uncoil and then your arms start your downswing
3/ and your wrist lag releases at the bottom of your swing through impact with your ball.

Are You Falling Back and Topping Your Ball or Hitting it Fat?
For golfers who can’t complete their forward weight shift during the transition, you may want to
START AND END your swing with pressure on your leading leg. That will definitely help you power your irons down through your ball [FIRST] for a more consistent impact with the ball so that you avoid falling back DURING your downswing [HITTING FAT SHOTS]. Unfortunately holding pressure on your leading foot limits your ability to rotate your hip and spine in your backswing so it limits your power and distance. [But it better to make a clean hit and getting your ball in the air.]

Your swing should be completed with the cadence of an accelerating dance step using the rhythm of 1,2-3. Each of the steps melt together as you power your swing up your target line to a balanced pose. Practice with GOLFSTR+ to feel the power and consistency of your release. Buy one today at

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Find the Swing That Works for YOU!

I started my journey to lower my handicap by finding new ways to avoid slicing and adding control to my draw or fade. In short my goal was to hit more fairways and greens in regulation. Of course putting (which accounts for about 42% of our hits on every round) is a critical component for every round but if you can’t hit the green in regulation on the low side of the hole you can look forward to more bogies, doubles and triples.

Avoiding neck, core, back and leg injuries should be a logical building block for any swing improvement. I try to use TV as my trigger to get on the floor and start my  strengthening and flexibility exercise plan. Yes, the TV goes on and I hit the floor. It’s simple. The internet provides ideas for more body building solutions than you can dream up. I have finally settled on: Get the gut down by strengthening the core, strengthen my arms and stretch anything that moves when I play golf.

Plan for a Consistent Swing
A/ Crazy Swing Ideas are a Waste of Time:  I have tried leading wrist bent at the start of the takeaway, cocking the wrist at the start of the take-way (like Dustin Johnson) and the latest one is Square Face Golf using a strong grip with both hands. Some build in lag and some create a flat wrist at the top of your backswing but they all generate inconsistencies in your swing as you move from your irons to your driver.

B/ Michael Breed and many others highlight the importance the swing direction and face direction at the point of impact.  They all point out that every pro has a different swing but they all manage the launch and the draw or fade using impact direction and face direction.
BINGO: You need the right motion to release through impact and to reach a balanced finish.

Solution for a Consistent Swing
1. Minimize the motion in your backswing and follow-through for a consistent wrist release through the ball and up your target line.

Patrick Reed may win the FedEx Cup. His swing is so clean as he transfers his weight from his trailing foot to his leading foot.  Check the straight leading arm.

2. Use the setup of most professional golfers to generate a consistent swing. The basic grip, stance and ball position are so critical for every club in your bag. Don’t invent or try out radial new moves as they just create inconsistencies in your swings.
3. Take your time in your backswing to allow time for your wrist lag as you shift forward during your transition. Count “1,2” in your backswing to help you slow down and then “3” in your downswing to a balanced finish.
4. Choose a comfortable swing plan to allow for your swing from the inside as you rotate your hips to power your shot up your target line.
5. Use your trailing foot to manage the direction of your hit. Move your foot back from your target line to generate a power draw. A slight close of the face of you club may be needed to add draw. [for fade: trailing foot forward and face open]

Minimize your swing thoughts for more consistent hits. Know how your trailing foot and club face will affect your ball. To block your mind count 1, 2 in your backswing and 3 as you swing from the inside and up your target line to a balanced finish. Practice with GOLFSTR+ to learn to keep your leading arm straight in your backswing and down to the point of impact. Buy one today at

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Create Your Mini-Game-Plan

You can’t afford to lose control of your game after a poor shot. The best solution is to reference a mini check list to keep your mind in a calm state for your next perfect shot. In the Wimbledon finals the camera zoomed in on Sarina Williams reading her notes (hidden by her towel) as she recovered between games. Zack Johnson reviews his list of wisdom notes to keep his mind sharp. Now would be a good time to write-up a set of reference notes for future reference to help you REFOCUS YOUR MIND.

Many of the pros have a coach or a caddie who they depend on for tips to focus on during a round of golf. I read that Payne Stewart’s father often gave him notes before he started important rounds in a tournament. You most likely don’t have a coach or mentor so why not approach this opportunity like a business plan.

Objective: Set your goal to break 100 or 90 or 80. Make it achievable.

Brooks Koepka Takeaway and WIDE Backswing must be a great thought process.

Strategy: What do you need to do to lower your score by 5 to 10 strokes?
– Layup in a perfect location on long approach shots to the green.
– Avoid taking a 7 by getting bad shots back into play on the fairway.
– Learn to draw or fade to make sure that you land in the fairway.
– Avoid a slice by setting up with a strong grip (but not a tight grip) and swing with a flat wrist and lag from the top to a full finish.

Brooks Koepka is the Number 1 Golfer to emulate.  Straight Leading Arm swinging from inside to impact and a balance finish.

– Take your time in your backswing to create lag as you shift your weight forward
– Narrow your stance for wedge shots and widen your stance for Tee Shots.
– Check your ball position for each club, choke down on your clubs for distance control or looping down in your backswing to avoid over the top slice swings.
– Minimize the length of your putt by reading the green before you make any approach shot to the green. Land above the hole and roll down to the hole.
– Sand is your friend. Do whatever you have to do to avoid 2 shots in the sand.
– 2 putts is your goal on every green. Firm through the hole with less break gives you the best chance to sink more putts.
– Minimize the same routine for setup on every hit or putt. Don’t forget to take a deep breath before you execute.

Choose 1 to 3 of these points or make up your own points to ensure that you lower your score. Write them on paper and check them before you play or while you are waiting on the tee. Track your performance by marking a tick for fairways hit in the top left corner of the box for each hole, a tick in the top right for Greens in Regulation and number of putts in the lower right corner. Track your record and you will improve your scores.

Rule #1: Eliminate mishits by not over-swinging and make sure you finish your follow-through. Choose the club that will help you feel like you are laying up to an easy spot on every shot. Practice with GOLFSTR+ for consistent shots with a straight leading arm and a flat wrist lag as you shift your weight forward at the top of your swing. Don’t rush it. Buy one today at

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Lower Your Scores with Calm Control

Why is it that the further we try to hit a shot, the worse the result?   You need to recognize that the Long Ball Driving Championships typically have the same problem. About 90% of their drives are off the grid. Long and into the woods or into the deep rough is NOT a great shot. We really need to prioritize our game to take advantage of the open fairways and the ideal approach to the greens.

Find this poster on eBay and let it burn into your brain.

I know that my best drives happen when there is a foursome about 260 yards ahead of us and I declare that “I’m just going to lay it up”. That’s when I take my time for a proper setup and a controlled backswing with lag and then release the perfect draw that rolls up just behind the golfers in front of us. Amazingly I swing at  80%  and nail the sweat spot.  My goal is to make that calm and controlled release every time?

Over-swinging is not a good plan for golf.  Why not try these thoughts:
1/ Choose the driver or wood that will put you in a good position for your approach to the green. [HINT: Your longest hit may not be your ideal location.]
2/ If you can’t reach the green or there are hazards along the fairway, choose the club and swing that will put you in a flat area for your next shot or for an easy approach to the green.
3/ Don’t use the club to hit your target if you have to crush a career shot to reach it.
4/ Choose the club that will easily reach your target and choke down if you have too much club but make sure that you take a full and controlled swing to hit your target. [Half swings with half power often end up causing you to open the face and hit a fade or slice so open your stance for half swings.]

Before you swing, think of the pause that refreshes your mind. Take a deep breath and exhale.

5/ Hitting the sweat spot on your club face can give you 5 to 25 more yards (with your driver), so work on a controlled swing to the safe side of the fairway.
6/ Playing from the fairway gives you your best chance to hit the green in regulation. Playing from the rough will almost guaranty a problem result which is short and in the wrong direction.
7/ If you land in a hazard or in the rough, take your penalty shot and make sure that your next shot is from the fairway for a chip and a possible putt to save par.
8/ Wind will mess up your mind. Accept the fact that wind into your face is going to take distance out of your shot or take it anywhere but the fairway. Use a hybrid or an iron to take control of your shot. Remember the old adage: “When it’s Breezy, Swing Easy.”
9/ If you can’t make a high soft landing on the green with one of your longer irons, plan to lay-up your shot on the side of the green with the easiest approach.
10/ Use words like “one, two” to control a perfect cadence for your putting swing. Or use the words “one, two” during your full backswing and “three” as you release through the ball to a balance pose.

Golf is an easy game if you can just choose the smartest shot and enjoy a controlled swing to reach your target. Practice with GOLFSTR+ to learn the benefits of a straight leading arm or flat wrist. Buy one today at

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Over Confidence could be your Death Wish

The more comfortable we are about our game the easier it is to put too much power into our next shot. Somehow we need a reminder to back-off and overcome the effects of an adrenaline rush. The next drive after a birdie hole is normally a “PBSU” (Post Birdie S—-Up).  An adrenaline rush may be causing the worst shots in YOUR game too. Rory McIlroy found this out when he stepped up to the first tee at the Open in Royal Portrush. He was an 8 to 1 favorite to win the OPEN.   CHOKE!

After Rory took an 8 on the first hole his odds of winning dropped to 33 to 1. His first shot smashed a women’s phone in her pocket as it careened out of bounds. His second tee-off attempt was lost in bushes short of the green. He finally chipped on and 2 putted for an 8 on the par 4. He did make a few birdies on his first round but on the 16th he 3 putted from 4 feet [including a stupid 12 inch putt missed in anger] and on the 18th he finished with a triple bogey for an 8 over par.

Tiger Woods had the same confidence as Rory and shot 7 over par on the same day. There has to be a lesson for all of us in this crisis for Rory and Tiger. Their failure on the first day of The Open prove to all of us that skill is important but if your mind is not in the right place, golf is an impossible game to play well.

Rory McIlroy carded a quadruple-bogey 8 to start the Open.  Just started with a little adrenaline rush to compensate for a fade during his warm-up round.

Rory said that he went out of bounds to the right during his practice round on the previous day. His mind was on not making the same mistake. His mind should have been on a nice draw that he knew that he has hit hundreds of times before.

Turn your Brain on to these points for every shot in your game.
1/ Calm Down: Take a deep breath and exhale to relax your body during your setup. Don’t let adrenaline spoil your next shot. Focus on your calm and relaxed mind to hit the shot that you know you can hit. BTW Rory stabbed at a 12 inch putt in anger and missed it- – – That stupid single mistake cause him to miss the cut. J.B. Holmes was tied for the Open lead starting day 3 and shot +16 on day 4. Possibly there was a little P&V in his veins.
2/ Take More Club and Grip Down to Swing at 80%:  Reach your target with a layup that you know you can make.
3/ Make a Practice Swing to FEEL Your Next Shot:  Feel your backswing with lag as you bump forward to start your downswing. For your DRIVES: Power up your target line. For your IRONS: Transfer your weight forward to ensure that you impact your ball before you take any turf or skim the grass.
4/ Focus on your Balanced Finish: Let the weight of your club do the work as you finish balanced on your leading foot.

Golf is a game of mental stability. Limit your thoughts to positive thoughts on the swing that you are making. Practice with GOLFSTR+ to build your swing for every club in your bag. Buy one today at

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Understand Draw and Fade to Fix Your Swing

You will never be a good golfer until you understand what is causing a draw or fade. Of course it’s wonderful to control a draw or fade and avoid a hook or slice because the last two can be deadly for your game. More important is understanding the cause so that you can make very small changes in your setup to ensure that you are controlling or even minimizing your draw or fade.

Hitting from a Sloped Surface:
Anything that you do to setup for a draw or fade is exaggerated by the slope of the ground that you are standing on. ALWAYS look for perfectly flat ground when you are setting up for your drive between the tee blocks. A slight slope to the left will naturally pull your shot to the left and a slope to the right will naturally fade to the right. If the slope on the tee surface makes a difference then you can understand how the uneven ground on the fairway should even be more dangerous for your shots.

FADE: During your setup, open your club face from the direction that you are setting up to hit the ball at your point of impact.

To Fade Your Shot:
Tee up slightly higher and slightly forward than your normal position. Setup with a target line to the left of your target landing area (for right handed golfers) and slightly open your club face to point at your target. Your ball will launch up the line of your stance and then fade back to your target point.

[NOTE: Your open club face caused your ball to spin clockwise for your fade to the right.] Practice this on the range to understand how much fade you create with your open club face and make adjustments to ensure that you never create a major slice by swinging across the face of your ball.

Draw: During your setup, close your club face from the direction of your swing at the point of impact.

To Draw Your Shot:
Tee up slightly lower and slightly back than your normal position. Line up your shot to the right and slightly close your club face to create a counter-clockwise spin on your ball.

[NOTE: The direction of your swing path at the point of impact creates the path of your ball. The side spinning rotation of your ball with an open or closed face causes your draw or fade.]

Considerations for Your Draw or Fade
1/ The same rules apply when hitting with your irons (but of course you don’t use a tee to assist your setup).
2/ You can also create a draw with a slightly “stronger grip” with both hands (with the V formed by your thumb and first finger on both hands pointing to your trailing shoulder instead of your trailing arm pit). Jack Nicklaus swung with his elbow-IN during the down swing and called it his “palm-up-grip” (referring to his right palm swinging up his swing path).
3/ Swinging over the top and outside-to-in across your ball will always create a SLICE. Avoid the over-the-top swing by taking your club straight back in the backswing and using a slight loop toward your back at the start of your downswing to help you hold your lag and swing from the inside.

Practice with your GOLFSTR+ for your straight leading arm to learn the basics that cause your ball to start right or left and then draw or fade. Knowing what causes draw or fade will help you control more shots to land in the fairway. Buy your GOLFSTR+ today at

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You C A N Get Out of Every Bunker

We have all seen videos offering “the perfect swing to get out of sand traps”. Unfortunately most of us still make “fat” shots and leave over 30% of our sand trap shots in the trap. You need the right setup as well as a SINGLE THOUGHT to complete your swing and get your ball out of the trap. The missing ingredient is to take your ball and an imaginary quarter (after the ball) out of the trap.

Your problem is that you need to swing through your ball and take the sand after the ball to complete your swing. Don’t get stuck in the heavy sand. Finish your swing. Imagine that there is a quarter in the sand about an inch beyond your ball. Swing with enough power to take your ball and the sand (including the imaginary quarter) after the ball with your full follow through.

ONE THOUGHT: Take the QUARTER with your follow-through.

I like to combine that though with the proper setup that I found in a recent blog by GolferRX:

1) Widen your stance (They suggested double your driving stance but I like to dig my feet down an inch or 2 into the sand with a bit wider and open stance for stability. An open stance helps you complete your swing.)

Rickie Fowler puts more weight on his leading foot to swing under the ball and the “quarter” after the ball.

2) Put more weight on your leading foot to help you swing through the ball and the sand after the ball). This forces a weight shift forward to get that extra sand.

3) Open your clubface – your ball should be able to rest on your club face. [When you open your sand wedge face to point straight up, you need to open your stance by at least 30 degrees away from your target line so that the leading edge of your club is square to your target.]

NOTE: Deep traps and short bunker shots need a high floating shot to clear the lip of the bunker by using a 30 degree open stance. For long bunker shots close your stance closer to parallel with your target line and close your club face to get more distance than height.

4) Keep your hands centered in your stance during your set-up

5) Swing with reasonable speed to take sand 2 or 3 inches before your ball as well as your “imaginary quarter“ in the sand after the ball. Complete your follow-through and end up balanced on your leading foot. [You will never get the ball out of the sand if you don’t transfer your weight to your leading foot as you complete your swing.]

Build confidence in your ability to make consistent sand trap shots by practicing with limited lag on your trailing wrist using your GOLFSTR+. Buy one today at

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