Practicing On Uneven Lies, In Bunkers Will Pay Off In The Long Run

PGA Championship GolfTHE MISS

You had a good round going until you got to 18. Your ball found the green-side bunker and instead of rolling down into a nice flat lie, it stayed up on the side of the trap well above your feet. You dug in, opened your stance and flailed. The club entered the sand about a foot behind the ball. Whiff. Try again. Whiff. Try again. Whiff. Try again. What’s going on?


Because the ball is above your feet it is closer to you. You need to choke up on your club accordingly. If the ball is drastically above your feet, you may have to choke down almost to the steel below the grip. Stand as tall as possible to ‘even out’ the lie.  When the ball is above your feet the club will naturally follow a flatter path on the forward swing. As the club moves on this shallower angle of approach, the toe of the club will tend to close earlier in its descent. The ball will come out left of where you are aiming (for right-handers), so aim a little to the right. Also, play the ball a touch farther back in your stance. The club wants to bottom out early, so make the compensation in your set-up.


Who knew back in high school when you were sleeping through geometry class that all these angles would come back to haunt you? These uneven lie shots are a big part of golf and ones you should address. Range practice is good when you are loosening up before a round, or working on a specific swing element, but the real practice is on the golf course. Go out in the evening and place a few balls in the trouble spots. Experiment. Plug in the proper technique and you will be amazed at how well it works. A consistent refrain in this column is: Work on your weaknesses until they are strengths. When you watch the tour pros on TV, they rarely get flustered over an unusual lie. They have practiced just about any shot that they might face and they are ready for it. Don’t let a lie throw you for a loop. Becoming a complete player should be the goal of every golfer.

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