A Lesson Learned: Beat a buried lie

Keegan Bradley
Getty Images
Keegan Bradley's clutch par save from a buried lie earned him the WGC - Bridgestone Inv. title.
Sara Dickson, PGA

Problem Area: Bunkers
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Sunday, August 05, 2012 | 10:23 p.m.

For many, lost in the drama of the final hole struggles of Jim Furyk was the incredible up-and-down from Keegan Bradley from that buried lie in the bunker. The putt was obviously the highlight, but let's not lose sight of his ability to get in position for that putt - something that many amateurs struggle with every round.

If you encounter the dreaded 'buried lie in a bunker', remember rule 1. "Get out of the bunker." This is not the time to get occupied with how close you can get it to the hole. Don't get cute with the shot. Find the area of the green that provides the greatest room for run out and hit to that spot.

Fortunately, the shot is not that hard once you accept that guideline.

For a shot like Keegan's, keep the clubface square or even close it (depending on how buried the lie is). This is different than how you approach most bunker shots, but this will allow the club to dig more into the sand. When the lie is buried, the golfer needs to dig more into the sand to effectively move enough sand to get the ball out. Stronger golfers who swing faster will not have to close the face as much to dig through the sand. But most golfers, myself included, with slower swing speeds may wish to close the face more to help them dig more. Be sure to take the sand, the sand, as always, is your friend in greenside bunkers and you want to use it.

Also, practice this! How many times have we been told not to touch the sand with the club when in a bunker? Many! Ignore that when you go to a practice bunker. Take practice swings in the bunker, yes, grounding your club, feeling what it is like to use the bounce vs. the leading edge! Take a few swings hitting the back side of the sole (bounce), a few swings hitting with the leading edge, and a few swings with the clubface even more shut. Monitor how much sand the club takes with each shot selection. How are we expected to know what it feels like if we've never given ourselves the opportunity to isolate the feeling?! Try different options, see what you can come up with. There are very few "correct" answers in golf; instead there are a lot of options that work well depending on the situation. Your experimentation and practice time in the bunker will make all the difference out on the course.

So many golfers make bunkers the most difficult part of the game, but they really do not need to be. And with a little practice and time spent trying new techniques, it can become a strength rather than a weakness. I hope this tip helps with your game!

Sara Dickson is a PGA Certified/LPGA Golf Professional at Sleepy Hollow CC (Scarborough, NY) and Stonebridge CC (Naples, FL).

Sara was most recently nominated as one of Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers and is a contributing female instructor staff writer for New England Golf Monthly Magazine.

Sara studied Business Administration with a concentration in PGA Golf Management and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Methodist University (Fayetteville, NC) in 2009. Originally from Rhode Island, Sara completed four internships at locations including Newport Country Club (RI) and the Pinehurst Resort Golf Academy (NC). While at Methodist, Sara was a CoSIDA ESPN Magazine All-Academic American member of the NCAA National Championship Women’s Golf Team.

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