Staying out of trouble | On the Course with Brian Mogg

Bellevue College Running Start student and standout Skyline High School golfer Brian Mogg joins the Reporter for another installment of golf tips.

Brian Mogg is one of the state’s top prep golfers and is entering his second year in the Bellevue College Running Start program.

A member of the Skyline High School golf team, Mogg has made three trips to the state tournament during his time as a prep, finishing in a tie for third place in 2012 and 2013 after a sixth place finish as a freshman.

He most recently competed in the USGA U.S. Junior Amateur and finished in a tie for 22nd place in the stroke play portion of the event before also competing in match play.

Mogg agreed to spend some time with reporter Josh Suman to break down the game, offer some easy-to-follow tips and provide some insight during this series, which will run throughout the summer.

The first installment of the series took a look at playing with pace and patience on the green, one of the most difficult tacts for golfers of all skill levels.

This time, Mogg helps explain some of the ways he stays out and gets out of trouble.

“I pick out a foot in front of the ball, and put that in line with where I want to go,” he said.

Formulate a plan

It seems simple enough, but Mogg said before each hole, he plots out his ideal path down the course by first finding his trouble spots.

“The first thing I look at is what side I can miss on,” he said. “If there is water left, I want to make sure to miss right to take that out of play.”

Keep the hands quiet

Getting the club head square, and keeping it that way through the bottom of the swing can be one of the most frustrating parts of the game. Everyone wants to be able to flex a little muscle with the driver, but Mogg said too much hand motion will cripple that plan before it begins.

“The one thing I don’t want is a lot of hand motion, because it gets the club opening and closing,” he said. “When you get really open on the backswing, you have to flip it over and under pressure it is a lot tougher to control.”

Instead of focusing on club face placement, Mogg said keeping alignment in order from the feet up to the shoulders, and keeping the hands quiet, is the key to staying out of trouble off the tee.

Make some lemonade

Every round of golf is guaranteed to have a few shots that find the rough or sand trap, but working out of trouble is one of the keys to dropping your score consistently.

When Mogg finds himself in the sand or anywhere off the fairway, he said his first task is identification.

“If I have a terrible lie, I know I just have to get it out,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be close, I just have to get out of trouble.”

Failing to recognize a bad situation can lead to an overaggressive play, but Mogg said when the circumstances are right to go after it, don’t hesitate.

“If I have a good lie, I’m trying to get it as close as I can,” he said. “Or even make it.”

Get familiar with the sand

Just as is the case on the green, spending some time practicing in the sand can make all the difference.

“When you show up to the course, even before you play, hitting shots in the practice bunkers will help you,” Mogg said.

Also like greens, sand traps will have a different consistency and makeup depending on the course and weather. Finding out if the sand is hard, soft or sparsely distributed in the bunker can be a big advantage when trouble strikes.

The Sand Dollar

Of all the quick and handy tips Mogg has picked up working with top golf instructors from around the country, he said few are more valuable than one he uses to practice in the sand. While grounding a club in the bunker is a penalty during a round of play, it can be a useful tool when getting in some practice strokes.

Let the ball find a lie in the sand and then with the head of the club, draw a pair of horizontal lines, one in front and one behind the ball, about the size of a dollar bill.

On the downstroke, try to enter the sand at the line behind and then bring the club through the ball, out of the sand on the follow-through. Mogg said it is one way to ensure consistently accurate contact with the ball.