Few sights in golf can send the heart into a spiral worse than a ball buried (Plugged or Fried Egg Lie) in a bunker. Once you’ve recovered from the initial distress, the one and only goal should be getting the ball out of the sand. And guess what? It’s not that difficult.

First of all, forget knocking the ball close to the hole. Not even tour pros can put spin on a buried bunker shot, so it takes luck to get it to tap-in range. The standard for a good result should be any shot on or near the green.

With that in mind, here’s how to proceed:

  1. Instead of a sand wedge, choose a lob wedge, gap or pitching wedge depending on the length of the shot and the height of the lip. These clubs have thinner soles, without the bounce of a sand wedge, and slide more easily into the sand. (Note: A sand wedge may work best if the sand is especially soft.)
  2. Assume a normal bunker stance, digging the feet into the sand for stability, with a little extra weight on your left (lead) foot.
  3. Position the ball in the middle of your stance with the shaft tilted toward the target.
  4. Close or “toe in” the clubface slightly, which will effectively sharpen the leading edge as it enters the sand.
  5. Make an abrupt backswing, cocking the wrists earlier than usual.
  6. Swing down hard on a steep angle, hitting an inch or so behind the ball.
  7. It’s OK to stop the club in the sand with little or no follow-through.
  8. Prepare for the ball to come out with no backspin – it may even fly with a little overspin – and to roll a good bit after landing. You may need to aim away from your target if there’s trouble close behind it.