Masterclass: No.13 Unplug that lie!

In the latest article in his series, top coach John Cook unravels the secrets of the plugged lie.

Ed Greenland's picture
Golfmagic Staff
Wed, 15 May 2013
Masterclass: No.13 Unplug that lie!

Scary prospect- a plugged ball

There are few incidences on a golf course more certain to get your blood boiling and to lead you to throw yours hands up in frustration, than a plugged or poached egg lie in a bunker.

You immediately feel the world is against you and ask what you have done to deserve such bad fortune.

As they say in the US, you have to ‘suck it up and move on.’ This game will deal you far more difficult hands before you’re finished.

1. Full swing, steep angle

The secret to escaping from a lie where the ball sits partly submerged in the sand, is to ensure the clubhead gets to the bottom of the ball through impact if the ball is going to be lofted out of the sand consistently.

It may demand a sharp-edged pitching wedge rather than a sand iron.

Stand a little more square on than you would a normal bunker shot, the line of feet, shoulders and knees parallel and aimed just left of where you want to land the ball.

If there’s not much of a lip to carry your escape shot over and you have plenty of green to play with (between you and the flagstick), play the shot with a square or even slightly closed clubface.

2. Chop down hard into the sand

This will encourage the leading edge of the club to dig into the sand, shovel under the ball and lift it out with ease.

If the bunker has a steep lip to avoid and there’ s not much green to play with, open the clubface wide, pick the club up steeply on the back swing and then bury the club under the ball hard, with little forward momentum.

This should make the ball pop out softly. It will take plenty of practise and remember the ball has to be hit hard.

3. Minimise forward momentum

One other tip when the ball is buried deep, really hood or close the face of the club (ideally a sharp-edged pitching wedge) and chop down hard a fraction behind the ball.

It’s not a pretty sight and you won’t have much control over the run of the ball when it lands. But it will pop out, if you imagine you’re an executioner as opposed to a golfer!

Originally published Jan 2005, updated May 2013.

Want more bunker tips?

Click here for our guide on: Fairway bunker escapes and Bunker flop shot

Or check out the rest of the masterclass series