Sometimes golf can be a cruel game. It's bad enough when you hit a good shot that trickles into a greenside bunker, but it's even worse when your ball comes to rest in an awkward spot, like this sideslope lie (above). I'm going to give you the keys for handling any bunker.
First, you have to shake off the shot you just hit. Accept that bad breaks happen, and turn that negative into a positive by taking on the challenge of the next shot.
Now for a few swing mechanics. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to maintain your posture as you swing through the sand. Bad lies often prompt high-handicappers to straighten up their bodies as the club enters the sand in the hopes of lifting the ball to safety. But if you don't maintain your posture, you'll have a hard time sliding the clubface under the ball. (Don't forget, to hit a good greenside bunker shot, the club doesn't touch the ball.) To maintain your posture, set up a little lower to the ground than normal and focus on keeping your knees bent throughout the swing. Make sure to swing along the angle of the slope—don't be tempted to try to dig it out.
SWEEP IT OUT OF FAIRWAY BUNKERS
I've seen so many golfers hit the ball fat from fairway bunkers. You want to sweep the ball as cleanly as possible—in other words, almost on the upswing. Play the ball farther forward in your stance, grip down an inch, and get the feeling that you're swinging slightly up on it. Unless there's a high lip in front of you—and your only play is to pitch it out—hitting it thin beats hitting it fat every time.
DAVID LEADBETTER, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, operates 26 golf academies worldwide.