How To Escape Buried and Fried Egg Lies in the Bunker

By Nick Heidelberger

Golf ball in a fried egg lie in the bunker

Bad lies are part of golf, and two of the worst lies are the fried egg lie and its evil twin, the buried-in-the-sand lie. Most golfers opt to pretend these lies don’t exist, or that they’ll never need to learn how to play them, but the only thing worse than discovering your ball is buried in the sand is taking four hacks to get it out, hacking up your scorecard in the process.

David Glenz, former PGA of America Teacher of the Year, demonstrates exactly how to navigate these tricky lies to save you strokes, and impress your partners while you’re at it. If after this lesson you’re still not sure you can hit out of these tough lies, we’ll spell out your alternate relief options.

The Fried Egg Lie

Let’s start with the more common of the two devilish bunker lies, the fried egg.

What Is a Fried Egg Lie?

Golf ball in a fried egg lie in the bunker

A fried egg lie in golf is when a ball lands in a bunker and comes to rest partially buried in its crater, with only the top half of the ball above the sand. The “fried egg” title makes sense as soon as you find your ball in this scenario, because half a golf ball sitting in a nice round crater looks just like a fried egg.

How To Hit a Fried Egg Bunker Shot

When you’re faced with a fried egg lie, the bottom of the ball is lower than it is on a routine bunker shot when the ball sits on top of the sand. Therefore, the bottom of your swing must also be lower. David Glenz shows you exactly how to accomplish this.

  1. Position the ball farther back in your stance than you would with a routine bunker shot. Your ball position on a fried egg lie should be in the middle of your stance.
  2. Lean the shaft of the club forward to reduce the bounce of the club and shift your weight slightly to your lead leg. This allows the club to dig into the sand more, so it can get to the bottom of the ball.
  3. When hitting a shot from a fried egg lie, the ball will come out lower and will run out farther than it would with a perfect bunker lie. Be sure to account for this when you’re visualizing your shot.

The Buried Bunker Lie

Golf ball in a buried lie in the bunker

You never want to find your ball buried in a bunker, but when you do, it’s nice to know how to get out. Let’s look at the buried bunker lie.

What Is a Buried Bunker Lie?

A buried lie in the bunker is when your ball is almost entirely plugged in the sand. When your ball is buried in the bunker, you can usually just see the top part of the ball.

How To Hit From a Buried Lie in a Bunker

Since the buried lie is essentially an exaggerated fried egg lie, your technique for escaping the buried lie, and Glenz teaches, is an exaggeration of the adjustments you made to hit the fried egg bunker shot.

  1. Move the ball a little farther back in your stance, so it’s slightly back of the center of your stance.
  2. Shift a little more weight to your front foot and lean the shaft a little more forward than with the fried egg lie. This will create a steeper swing and more digging action.
  3. Don’t try to swing hard. Make a controlled swing and let the club do the work.
  4. Bunker shots from buried lies will roll out even more than a fried egg lie, so plan for that before you hit your shot.

Rules & Relief Options From a Bunker

If you’d rather not attempt a seemingly impossible bunker shot, the Rules of Golf offer two options to make your next shot easier, but they’ll cost you. Here are your alternatives to playing these difficult bunker shots.

Penalty Strokes

Relief Available


None. There is NO FREE RELIEF from the bunker, even if your ball is plugged. Embedded ball relief ONLY applies to the general area, not bunkers.


For one penalty stroke, you can declare your ball unplayable and drop it within two club-lengths, no nearer to the hole. Or, you may use back-on-the-line relief, remaining in the bunker.


For two penalty strokes, you can declare your ball unplayable and drop it outside of the bunker using back-on-the-line relief as far back as you would like.

Make a Splash

Even though fried egg and buried bunker lies aren’t as common as most other shots in golf, it’s important to know which easy adjustments you can make to handle these shots with ease. Once you spend some practice time learning how to hit these shots, you will literally fear no bunker shot.

About the Author

Nick Heidelberger is the Editor of GolfLink and an active member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA). He covers all things golf, from the professional tours to rules, equipment, style, and golf history. In the years prior to joining GolfLink, he worked for the New England Section of the PGA of America. Nick has a degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and has been an avid golfer for more than 10 years.