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When a long blast is required, dig in deep

After several months on the pro tour and plenty of time spent in observation, experimentation and practice, I have finally gotten the knack of a shot that is quite difficult for most golfers. This is the long, full iron from a fairway sand trap. The problem is that you are not only hitting from a sandy lie but that your feet are likely to slip while you are trying to make the shot. The very first point to check is how much loft you will need to clear any mound at the front of the trap. Next, if clearing the edges of the trap will be no problem, select a club one number longer than you would ordinarily use (a two-iron, say, instead of a three-iron). Choke up on the club. This not only gives better control but compensates for the fact that standing in sand has brought you closer to the ball. After you have addressed the ball, take as full a practice swing as you can to make sure that your feet are solidly planted. It is especially important that your right foot not slip. In hitting, take a slightly more upright swing, and instead of aiming at the back of the ball, concentrate on the top of the ball. You can be almost certain of solid contact this way. The natural loft of the club will get the ball into the air. There have been many times recently when I was very thankful I had worked on this shot. During the third round of the recent Doral Open, for instance, I was playing in a threesome with Arnold Palmer and Bill Casper and had moved into contention for the lead. On the 14th hole, a 419-yard par 4, I drove into a fairway trap on the left. I choked up on a two-iron, hit the ball out as I have described above and onto the green for a par. This enabled me to finish the round tied with Casper, just one shot out of the lead.



In fairway trap Nicklaus chokes UP grip, firmly plants his right foot, hits strongly through shot (left).