How To Escape The Buried Lie
Square the clubface and swing down hard
Using the bounce on the bottom of your sand wedge is a good thing in the sand—except when your ball is plugged or in a fried-egg lie (left).
Then you want to gouge it out using the leading edge of the clubface instead of sliding the club through on its back edge, like you normally do.
Here's how to do it: Set up with the ball in the middle of your stance and square the clubface to the target. Going back, hinge your wrists more abruptly, and then come down on a steep angle. This will help you get the leading edge under the ball as you blast out a big chunk of sand—and the ball with it (right).
The sand will provide a lot of resistance, so don't worry about getting to a perfect follow-through. Focus on making a firm, steep swing and driving your club under the ball.
THAT SINKING FEELINGThe tour's top sand players get up and down from greenside bunkers 65 percent of the time. The average is 48 percent. What separates the best from the rest? How they handle the hard shots. From a good lie in sand with average consistency—not too fluffy, not too firm—every pro expects to get it inside three feet. Now superintendents are using fluffier sand that prevents a player from just slamming the club into it because the ground underneath will keep the club from digging too deep. Fluffy sand also yields more buried lies and balls that settle on slopes instead of trickling to the flat part. It's putting the bite back in bunkers.
HANK HANEY, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, runs the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy, in Hilton Head Island.