How to beat awkward bunker lies by Craig Waddell

If you can take the right amount of sand on each bunker shot, you will be a force to be reckoned with from greenside traps. If we don't take enough sand, we'll hit the ball too far, or worse, thin it through the green. If we dig in and take too much, the ball won't get up. This is especially true when playing awkward uphill and downhill lies from bunkers. Your set-up position is what governs angle of attack, and ensures you can take the correct amount of sand with a nice shallow swing, utilising the bounce on your wedge. Here are the adjustments you should make. 

GD March 14 CW

THE UPHILL LIE

A lot of players give themselves no chance with these shots simply by setting up wrong. They lean their weight into the slope, which causes a steep angle of attack, with the club digging too far into the sand. You still want to make a nice shallow move through the ball, so ensure that your shoulders run perpendicular to the slope and your weight favours your trail leg. The uphill lie is actually a bonus for many shots because it promotes a high, soft ball flight, but the worst thing you can do is dig your club into the sand. Try to swing with the slope.

GD March 14 CW

THE DOWNHILL LIE

Let's be clear, this shot is never easy and for me, ranks among the most difficult in the game, especially if you have to negotiate a steep face. The principles remain the same as for the uphill lie. You want your shoulders to match the angle of the slope and your weight to favour your front foot - you're reversing the set-up keys that you use for the upslope. It might feel strange to allow your weight to go with the slope as opposed to fighting it, but this will allow you to swing with the slope on the downswing and pop the ball up. You won't impart much spin with this shot, so make allowances for this when you aim for a landing  one. If you're playing to a tight pin, forget about the flag and just concentrate on making sure your next shot is with the putter.

There is great carry-over effect for the rest of your game when practicing these types of shots from a bunker. Not only is it a good way to sharpen your sand skills, but also gives you a great insight into the importance of angle of attack, which can then be transferred into your regular swing.

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