How’d He Hit That: DJ’s Hole Out From The Hazard

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

Dustin Johnson had an incredible hole out from just outside a hazard earlier this week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

There are some great takeaways from this shot. First, just because you may have to get wet to play a shot, the payoff could be worth it. You should examine the lie and see if you can have a go at it, albeit within reason. Dustin only had to roll-up one pant leg; think twice if you are contemplating going van de Velde.


Secondly, select the right club and adjusting your setup for extreme lies will produce a swing plane and impact position that is closer to a standard shot.

Arguably the easiest part of DJ’s shot was taking off a sock, shoe and rolling up the pant leg. After that, Dustin was faced with the ball well above his feet not in the greatest of lies and a long pitch shot to get to the flag. These three factors determined the club he was going to use and how he went about hitting the shot.

Notice he does not use his most lofted wedge even though he is hitting out of the rough. The ball being above his feet dictated that his swing plane will be flatter and the path more around his body. Using loft here is not a good idea because it will most likely result in a big pull (shut clubface) or introduce the hosel to the ball (open clubface).


After selecting a medium-to-lower lofted wedge, you can see his hands are almost below the grip. Shortening the length of the club allows Dustin to have more control of the clubhead. 

Finally, we can see he sets his hips and shoulders parallel to the slope of the green-side terrain. This will allow the path to also follow the ground and minimize the amount the club digs into the ground as it travels through impact.

Even doing his best to match the angle of terrain, the club was still slowed and stopped by the slope as he pitched over it. This is to be expected and the reason why you always need to be accelerating into the ball during these green-side recovery shots.

So, next time you find yourself with a clean look at the back of the ball, the ball well above your feet and an uphill lie, remember…

  1. Select slightly less loft. Adjusting your hips and shoulders to the lie will add loft to the club naturally.
  2. With the ball above your feet, allow the club to work around your body in a path that is flatter than normal.
  3. Always accelerate through impact and anticipate the club will be stopped by the slope. This also allows you to take a minimal backswing and an aggressive through-swing, increasing your chances at successfully getting up and down.

Aaron Ungvarsky, PGA
Swing-U Instructor