Big Play: Charley Hoffman's bunker shot from tricky lie

Big Play: Charley Hoffman’s bunker shot from tricky lie

Charley Hoffman holed this bunker shot on his way to winning the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Carlos M. Saavedra/SI

WHO: Charley Hoffman
WHAT: A holed-out 16-yard bunker shot for a birdie
WHERE: 451-yard par 4 13th hole at TPC Boston
WHEN: Final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship

Coming into 13, Hoffman was on a roll, with a near-ace the par-3 11th hole and a par on the par-4 12th to take a one-shot lead. But then he hit two mediocre shots at 13 and was in the greenside bunker, surely feeling playoff pressure.

Hoffman then showed fantastic composure. He carefully approached the sand shot, which was below his feet on a downhill lie. That’s an easy shot to catch thin and blade. To prevent doing that, Hoffman at address clearly pushed down with his knees, and during the swing kept the knees bent and his body low. That allowed him to make a perfect strike — sand first, then ball — and he holed the shot for a two-stroke lead that he would never relinquish.

THE DRILL: When golfers practice bunker shots, they usually hit simple shots from clean and flat lies. But that doesn’t prepare you for reality, because most bunker shots are from uneven lies. When you practice, hit shots from as many different lies as possible. Adjust your setup to accommodate your body so that you can make as normal a swing as possible. In all but the most extreme lies, play the ball slightly forward of center. Here’s how to adjust your body on four common uneven bunker lies.

Ball Below Feet: Add a lot of extra knee-bend and significantly lower your body.

Ball Above Feet: Stand upright, straighten the knees so you feel a bit taller in the shot. Doing that will cause the ball to be a bit closer to your body than it should be with a normal sand shot.

Ball on Uphill: Get your shoulders in line, or parallel, with the slope of the bunker. Lower the right shoulder and raise the left shoulder, if you’re a right-handed player.

Ball on Downhill: Get your shoulders in line, or parallel, with the slope of the bunker. But your body is opposite of an uphill lie. Lower the left shoulder and raise the right shoulder.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Jim Murphy teaches at Sugar Creek Country Club in Sugar Land, Texas.