DJ Goes Lefty To Save A Shot At Firestone

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

The first round at the World Golf Championships event being held at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio was riddled with highlights and multiple low rounds. But through two rounds, there has been one shot that is both intriguing and can inspire viewers: Dustin Johnson’s left-handed hazard chip!

D.J. played his ball from the hazard in front of the green of the 16th hole, a hazard that has claimed many balls over the years. This par-5 can trip players up even after a well-placed tee shot and a conservative lay-up. Luckily, Dustin’s ball stayed dry. Unluckily, the lie provided no feasible stance.

With the ball resting in lush grass, he couldn’t resist; there had to be a way for him to not waste a penalty shot and advance the ball and possibly save par.

Let’s take a look at how he played this unique and useful shot.

The Lie

  • Only try this shot when you can not take a normal stance or any type of altered stance will still not allow a reasonable chance at playing the shot with club used in the conventional manner. You will also incur this type of scenario when your ball comes to rest close a tree or fence as well.
  • Check to make sure the grass or other surrounding obstructions allow for a slower and very easy chipping motion to contact and move the ball. For example, trying the left-handed save shot from tall fescue would not be a prudent play.

The Set Up

  • Take a wedge and flip it around so it is essentially upside-down and take a lefty stance and grip — this is how two lefts make a right.
  • Play the ball back of center to give yourself the best chance to contact ball first and move it forward.
  • Anchor more weight on the lead side to help create a descending angle of attack and get some “pop” on the shot.
  • Place the toe of the club behind the ball. This will be the “sweet spot” you want to try and hit for the best result

The Shot

  • The motion is not so much a chip or hit as it is a controlled and almost putting-like motion. Do your best to allow your big muscles and upper body to control the shot. This will minimize the chances of a whiff or top.
  • Take a few practice swings to feel comfortable with the body motion of this shot. Visualizing and practicing a putting motion or the shoulders working as a seesaw will be the best way to rehearse the shot.
  • Plan only moving the ball 7 to 12 feet with minimal loft. If the shot requires more than this, taking an unplayable lie is most likely your best option.
  • Feel as if the wrists and hands are locked and play a minimal role in the shot. Getting wristy and handsy will only make it harder for you to place the small area of the club used for this creative shot on the ball.
  • Finally, make sure your alignment points the ball to an area that is free of any other hazards and a safe zone. The last thing we want is to try a specialty shot like this and compound the trouble incurring more unnecessary strokes.