Buried…but not dead: How to hack out of a plugged lie in the bunker

A plugged bunker lie like this one doesn't need to ruin your round.
A plugged bunker lie like this one doesn't need to ruin your round.
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A buried lie in a bunker is a hideous sight for any golfer, since there’s virtually no way to put any spin on the ball and get it to stop quickly. Most golfers resign themselves to making bogey in this situation (or taking a drop and a penalty stroke thanks to the new rules), but it’s not impossible to hit this shot close enough to save par. You just need to learn how to execute the “cock and pop” method.

First, position the ball well back in your stance, opposite the middle of your back foot. This ensures that the toe of the club enters the sand first and then digs. You don’t want the heel to enter first—this will expose more of the trailing edge and cause you to catch the ball thin. Set the clubface square to slightly closed to promote more of a digging action, and think about driving the toe into the crater of sand directly behind the ball.

Close the clubface to make sure that the toe enters the sand before the heel—this will help you dig the ball out.

Start by making a short backswing, cocking your wrists quickly so that they’re fully hinged by the time your hands reach waist height. At this point, the butt of the club should point almost straight down.

Hinge your wrists quickly in your backswing. When your hands are at waist height, the shaft should point at the ground. Then just “pop” down on the ball as hard as you can, without following through.

From this position, swing down on a steep path so that it feels as though you’re popping the clubhead down onto the ball as hard as you can. But don’t follow through. The toe of the club will act like a shovel, propelling the ball out. The ball will fly lower and roll more out of the bunker, but if you do it right, you should have a look at par.