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Answer How do you play a bunker shot over a high lip

Its not enough that bunkers are filled with sand. Some of these wretched pits ratchet up the torment with steep-sided walls youd need a stepladder to climb.

When faced with the daunting task of getting the ball over a tall bunker lip, many of us quake in our knickers. A few hopeless hacks later, were still stuck right where we started. The only way out? With the ball in your pocket.

It doesnt have to be this way. Fact is, your sand wedge and lob wedge have enough loft to lift you over any lip – provided your technique is sound.

The key word here is “open.” As in, open stance, open clubface. By aligning your feet left of target and aiming the clubface to the right, you create additional loft which sends the ball on a more vertical flight. The closer you are to the wall, and the higher the obstacle, the more open your stance and club should be.

Heres a step-by-step guide to escaping this situation:

  • Use a sand wedge if the lip is moderately high (a few feet above the level of the ball); for extreme situations, go with the higher-lofted lob wedge.
  • Take your stance by digging the feet lightly into the sand; your feet and body should point left of the spot where you want to land the ball.
  • With the ball slightly forward of the middle of your stance, open the clubface by aiming it just right of the target spot. Distribute your weight evenly on your left and right feet.
  • Focus on hitting the sand about two inches behind and outside the ball to account for the clubs leftward path.
  • Your swing should follow your body alignment, not the target line; be sure to accelerate through the shot, giving the sand a solid thump.
  • Dont let your right hand cross over your left on the follow-through. Keep the back of your left hand pointed up to maintain an open clubface and maximize loft at impact.

One final thought: Dont get cute. Your one and only goal should be clearing the lip, not sticking the shot close. If you do knock it stiff, ask a partner to give you a hand – climbing out of the bunker, that is.

Sand play baffles and terrifies scores of amateur golfers. The only way to overcome this anxiety is to learn correct technique. Our Bunker Golf Tips section is full of helpful lessons, including these favorites:

5 Common Bunker Mistakes

How Do I Spin the Ball from a Bunker?

Bunker Practice Drill for Perfect Strikes

What to Look for in a Sand Wedge

Golf Bunker Rules and Etiquette: Raking the Sand

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Line up this way and youll fail to use the clubs loft to its fullest. The ball will come out low and hit the bunker wall with a sickening “thud.” Open the clubface and your stance to produce a higher shot – this applies outside the bunker, too.

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The farther to the right you position the ball, the more you de-loft the clubface. This defeats the purpose and all but assures a lousy result. By playing the ball left of center, you take full advantage of the clubs loft while creating the shallow angle of attack needed for the shot.

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This is a great idea when face with a long bunker shot with little or no lip to carry, but potentially disastrous if an extra-high shot is a must. Most pitching wedges have 47° - 50° of loft, compared with 56° for a standard sand wedge and 60°-plus for a lob wedge. In this case, loft is your friend.