When you're buried in a bunker, let the sand do the work

Matt Kuchar
Getty Images
Matt Kuchar watches the flight of his ball after hitting from the bunker on No. 18 Sunday.
By Mark Aumann
PGA.com

Problem Area: Bunkers
Series: Lesson Learned

Matt Kuchar was masterful from the bunkers all day Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links, but none better than the shot he holed on No. 18 for the birdie that won the RBC Heritage.

Here's the video of Kuchar's tournament-winning shot:

If you're faced with a difficult bunker lie, particularly a "fried egg" shot like Kuchar found himself with three holes earlier, use the sand to your advantage.

PGA professional David Hutsell, 2011 PGA of America Player of the Year and golf professional at Woodholme Country Club in Pikesville, Md., said the key to having confidence when facing a shot where you have a buried lie is how you angle the face of your sand wedge for the shot. 

With a typical sand shot, most amateurs are taught to open the club face and use the bounce of the edge to sweep under the ball, which pops it up and out. But when you have a buried lie, Hutsell said do the opposite: close down the face instead.

"The most important thing with this shot is to be aggressive," said Hutsell, winner of the 2011 PGA Professional National Championship. "What I'll do for this shot is I'll close the blade of the club here a little bit, because I want this club to dig into the sand more than normal."

Hutsell said put the ball back in your stance a little bit, close the face and swing aggressively, hitting into the sand behind the ball. What should happen is the club will dig into the sand instead of sliding through it -- and the sand you dislodge will carry the ball out cleanly.

It's a swing you should definitely work on in the practice bunkers at your home course or driving range before you give it a go on the course. That way you can determine the angle of the club face you're comfortable with and the correct distance behind the ball you'll need to hit so you can play the "fried egg" shot with confidence, just like Matt Kuchar.

Here's a video of Hutsell demonstrating the correct loft and stance:

 

 


Try this ...

top notch