Difficult Golf Shots: How to Hit a Buried Uphill Bunker Shot

By Laird Small

What a shot I have to hit here. The wind came up when I hit my ball and it fell out of the sky and I have it plugged in the bunker with this big lip, the flagstick is pretty close. I am in trouble here. You know I don't have to hit this shot because the rules in golf say that I can take a penalty drop, I have to keep the ball in the bunker and it will cost me a penalty shot. I also have to keep the ball and the target in line, so I would have to drop somewhere back in here.

How to Hit a Plugged Uphill Bunker Shot (and Avoid a Penalty)

Sometimes we get our high numbers on our scorecard because we try to hit a shot we don't know how to do or don't have the confidence to do and we make our sevens and eights that way. Let me show you how to hit this shot, it is much easier than it looks.

What we need to do is adjust the clubface so that it will penetrate the sand. This would be a square clubface, and what I want to do is turn the club closed. The reason that I want to do that is that as the club is coming into the sand the toe of the club is going to dig much faster than the entire leading edge. So when I am taking my setup I am going to get the clubface closed.

How to Aim for a Plugged Uphill Bunker Shot

But you are saying, hey wait a minute, when you hit the shot the ball is going to go in between your legs. No it is not. The ball goes where the sand goes, not where the clubface is looking. It is a huge thing to look at in these bunker shots because I am not striking the golf ball, I am striking the sand.

As I make my swing the sand is going to go in the direction of the target line and the ball is going to go with it. You have to have an element of trust in doing this. I am going to have a little bit of a stance here. My weight is going to be on my forward leg and I am going to keep it there because as I swing down if I let gravity push me back I am not going to make good contact with the bunker.

Clubface is closed, I am hanging on my left side, the ball came out and I have a chance to save par. Give this technique a try, I know it will help you a bunch.

Category: Bunker Play

About the Instructor

Laird Small
Laird Small
Pebble Beach Golf Academy
1700 17-Mile Drive
Pebble Beach, CA 93953
Tel: 831-622-8650