How to unplug a plugged bunker lie

Friday December 23rd, 2011
Swing down hard—if you don’t take a lot of sand, you won’t unplug the ball.
Leonard Kamsler

There’s nothing quite as fun—or rewarding—as pulling off a difficult shot with all your friends watching. Case in point: Blasting it close from a plugged lie in the lip of a greenside bunker. I’m sure you’ve faced this shot before, because most amateurs tend to come up short on their approach shots, and if your ball lands in the lip area of a bunker it’ll often plug (bunker sand is softest near steep lips, since nobody walks there). I’m also sure that you sometimes take more than two shots to get up and down from this situation. But not anymore! This lie only looks difficult. You can knock the ball close to the hole and save par using the technique below.

Step 1: Create the most secure stance possible so that you don’t slip on the uneven terrain. You can see from the photo that, for me, this means setting my left foot outside the bunker.

Step 2: As you set up, close the face of your sand wedge (or other wedge, depending on the distance to the pin and the lip height) well past square to a very shut angle. Set your stance parallel
to your target line.

Step 3: Cock your wrists fully in your backswing, and then power your wedge into the sand just behind the ball with as much force and clubhead speed as you can muster. Don’t hold back on this one!

Because you start off with a closed clubface, the toe of your wedge will enter the sand first and then square up (as pressure from the sand increases). This causes the clubhead to “flip” into the ball and produce an upward trajectory and a lot of splash (check how much sand I take in the large photo above). As a result, the ball will carry onto the green with some “knuckleball” roll. Practice this technique first, then bring it out on the course to save a few strokes from a seemingly bad situation—while also impressing your friends. And next time, use one more club to
get over those front bunkers!

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