Blog 91, 1/19/11 - Steve Marino's Amazing Shot and How to Play it

The first two weeks of the 2011 season on the PGA Tour will be remembered not for who won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions or Sony Open in Hawaii, but two amazing shots that took a lot of visualizing let alone executing.
First was Bubba Watson's second to the 663-yard 18th hole on the Plantation Course at Kapalua in the first round of the Hyundai, a 305-yard driver off a downhill lie that sliced about 50 yards and finished ten feet from the hole. It was the shot of the day, and the tournament, and will surely be considered for shot of the year in a little less than 12 months' time.
At the Sony Open last weekend, however, Steve Marino hit what we reckon might have been an even better shot. Needing a birdie at least to have any chance of getting into a playoff, Marino tried cutting the corner on the dogleg left Par 5 but didn't quite reach the fairway, his ball coming to rest on a grassy bank less than a yard beyond the bunker on the corner of the dogleg.
With the ball at knee-height and 246 yards from the hole, Marino gripped down almost to the graphite on a fairway wood and hit a high draw that pitched hole-high, 20 feet right, and finished about 35ft away.
Check it out below.

Three of our teaching professionals - Phil Gaggero at Lake Padden, Mike Montgomery at Bellingham Golf and Country Club, and Ben Harvey at Shuksan talk about how on Earth he pulled it off, and whether or not you should try it.

PhilGaggeroPhil Gaggero:
"That shot had so many things that could go wrong. First off, he was standing on a slope in the bunker where getting a firm footing was difficult. Second, the ball was sitting about three feet above his shoes. Finally, the ball was in the rough.
With regard footing in the bunker, the most important thing to remember is to restrict lower body motion. I like to have my students feel as if they are standing on a thin sheet of ice and feel like they are primarily using the shoulders and arms to produce power. This helps keep the spine angle intact and promotes crisp contact. I also might recommend taking at least one more club.
Second challenge is the ball sitting above your feet. Clubhed path changes as you swing on a more upright plane, causing the ball to start left (for a right handed player) and probably continue left. The more severe the slope, the more offline the ball will fly. Also, the loft of the club will impact how severely the ball will fly offline, so there are really two things to consider here. Just figure out which way the ground is sloping and the ball flight should follow that curve. In Marino's case, the ground was sloping severely toward him and he compensated by aiming well to the right of the green. Finally, the ball was sitting in the rough, which could have slowed his clubhead down significantly and/or change the face angle at impact. Out of heavy rough, I recommend standing slightly closer to the ball and playing it slightly further back in your stance, thus creating a more descending blow on the ball. This was not really possible for Marino, however, because he was standing below the ball which made the shot very difficult.
Would I recommend this shot for weekend warriors based on the circumstances? Ask yourself; what is the risk vs. reward? If you are 200+ yards from the green and can't hit your fairway wood that far from a good lie, then why risk it? There is no real reward in that case and all risk. But if you are in a position where you can reach the green with solid contact and there are no obstacles in the line of flight, then give it a go. Worst case scenario is you top it ten yards and now have a stance to play a normal shot."

mikemontgomeryMike Montgomery:
"Marino had the classic 'ball above his feet' shot that was complicated slightly by unsure footing in the bunker. First off, you can see Steve aiming way right because this lie tends to produce a strong right to left flight. The more the ball is above the feet, the more you have to play for a hook. I would recommend a player choke down on the club an inch or more. It takes some experience to reliably judge how much hook to play. Therefore, one should try to find a similar lie on the driving range and practice it. You should also stand taller and feel the club swing more like a baseball bat. It is very important to take a few of these baseball-type practice swings in close proximity to the ball in order to get a good feel for the shot. The common error we are trying to avoid is digging too deep and hitting the ball fat. It appeared Steve used a fairway wood for this shot. Longer clubs can be much easier to use for a shot like this. If you try the same shot with a PW, you will notice the ball goes severely left. In addition, the short iron tends to send the ball straight left rather than produce a nice, even right to left curve. To get the idea of how this works, set a driver on a severe slope (clubhead above your feet) and place the top of a golf tee flat on the clubface. You’ll notice the tee points roughly at the target. Do the same with a PW and the tee points almost over your left shoulder! If you were 60 yards from the green, you may want to punch a little 7-iron as apposed to hitting a SW because of this.
Marino’s shot was complicated a bit by standing in the bunker. Fairway bunker shots are difficult because of the unstable nature of the sand. My thought has always been to swing with a very 'quiet' lower body. This eliminates the tendency to slip which usually leads to the chunk."

benharvey100Ben Harvey:
"For a shot like that you need to choke way down on the club (depending on how far the ball is above your feet, in this case almost to the grip), position the ball forward in your stance (opposite front foot instep), and aim for a draw because the ball will hook quite a bit. Make your stance a little wider than usual and, most importantly, keep your lower body still. Also, it will feel more like a baseball swing,that's okaygo with it. And I like to finish the swing with the club in front of my body rather than around it, unless I need more hook spin. As far as an amateur trying this shot; why not? Unless there is water in front of you or the green the worst that will happen is you will hit it 30 yards in front of you or hook it way left, but you should leave yourself with a shot at the green. You never practice this shot, but you may as well give it a go. If you pull it off, your friends and playing partners will be amazed at your craftiness."

Add comment

Security code