My Nemesis: The Plugged Bunker Shot


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , | Posted on Monday, October 12, 2009

So I was playing a round the other day and I was really rolling along. I had a great warm up session on the range and it had transferred into my play on the front nine. I shot a 43 and I thought that this was the day that was going to break 85.

I bogeyed the 11th and the pared the 12. Still doing well. For my standards at least. We got to the par 4 13th and that's when it all fell apart. I hit a decent tee shot that just ran off the fairway. I walked up to my ball and saw that I had a good lie. I was bout 160 yards out. A strong 7, solid 6 iron for me.

I was in between clubs. I am more comfortable hitting a 7 iron. Once I get to my 6, it gets a little bit dicey. There was water to the left and the pin was sitting behind a bunker guarding the front of the green.

I decided to go with the 7 and tried to swing close to my maximum to get it there. I stepped up to my ball and gave it a good whack. It looked good for a really long time. Right on line. This is going to be good. And then...poof! Bunker.

We drove up to the green and I got my first look at the lie. Not good. Plugged and on the up slope. Ouch! What do I do now? I had no idea how to play this shot but I obviously had to give it a try.

I set up to the ball and took my swing. Thump. The ball went about two feet and ran back down to my feet. I could feel the collar of my shirt starting to burn. I took my second attempt and it got to to the lip of the bunker and again ran back down to my feet.

I couldn't believe. I was paired with two guys I had never played with before and I could see them getting uncomfortable. It almost seemed like they were sorry for me. Being paired with strangers is nerve racking enough and now this happens.

I took my third swipe and managed to get it out but still had about a 45 foot putt, which I proceeded to three putt. So do the math. An eight. ARRRRGGGGHHH!!! And the round was going so well. After that, I was pretty much done. I shot a 52 on the back nine to finish with a 95. How disappointing.

As soon as I got home I got on my lap top and began looking for tips on how to play a plugged bunker shot. If I had that shot in my bag I wouldn't have had that meltdown and saved a decent round(again of course by my standards).

I try to learn something from each round that I play. The two things I learned were...

1.) Prepare better for each shot - I've heard it time and time again. When you are between clubs, go with the longer of the two. If I had prepared better I probably wouldn't have gotten myself into the bunker.

2.) Learn to let it go - After the disastrous 13th, I carried those two horrible bunker shots with me for the rest of the round. I couldn't think of anything else. All teachers and pros say take one shot at a time. This is something I have to work on.

Here's a great video that explains how to play the plugged bunker shot. I wish I had watched it before I went out to play my round. Hopefully you will see it before you get in this situation. That way you won't end up building snowmen in the dead of summer like me.

Have a good one and always hit your target.

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