How to beat a fried egg in the bunker.
If there is one thing that all experienced golfers know about hitting the ball into a bunker, it is this – you're always going to be nervous until you get a chance to look at the lie.
Hitting the ball into a bunker isn't always a bad thing, as a good lie in the sand is often better than a poor lie in the rough. However, a bad lie in the sand can be a disaster, and they don't come much worse than the fried egg.
When your ball sticks into the sand of the bunker, rather than sitting on top, you will often be facing the dreaded 'fried egg' lie. The lie is so-named for obvious reasons – the ball and the surrounding sand somewhat resemble a fried egg sitting in a pan as it cooks.
The ball is about halfway down in the sand, there is a little bit of a depression around the ball, and your chances of hitting a great shot are slim at best.
So what do you do in this situation? Just give up, or maybe kick your ball to a better lie while no one is looking? Of course not – with the right technique, you can get the ball back onto the grass and move on with your round.
The first thing you need to do when climbing down into a bunker to confront your fried egg is to manage expectations.
If you have a true fried egg lie, you aren't going to be lofting a high sand shot up next to the hole with backspin to stop it cold – that just isn't possible from this kind of lie.
Understanding what kinds of shots are possible from what lies is a big part of your growth as a golfer, and you have to accept the limitations of this lie. There is only so much you can do when the ball is buried.
Your number one goal when dealing with a fried egg lie should always be the same – get the ball out of the sand and onto the grass in a single shot.
You can easily spend two or three strokes down in the bunker if you try to hit a perfect shot from this bad lie, so don't make that mistake. Sure, you might wind up making a bogey after facing a fried egg, but that is far better than making a double or triple.
By picking the easiest possible path out of the sand – even if that path is nowhere near the hole – you can limit the damage.
Change Your Technique
When dealing with a standard greenside bunker shot, your usually technique likely involves laying the face open and splashing the ball out onto the green. This is great technique when you have a good lie – the bounce of the club slides through the sand, the ball comes out high and soft, and it usually settles down quickly after landing.
While that plan is perfect for a good lie, it is useless when you are facing a fried egg.
With a fried egg lie at your feet, the main goal you need to accomplish is to dig the ball out of the sand. That means using your most-lofted club while keeping the face square to the target line.
Opening the face allows you to use the bounce on a normal bunker shot, but this is not a normal shot – if you open the face here, you are likely to hit a line drive right into the face of the bunker in front of you. Keep the face square and do your best to dig the club in under the ball aggressively.
While you are naturally going to need to hit down through the sand to achieve lift, you don't want to move the ball too far back in your stance. Putting the ball back in your stance is going to make your swing too steep, and the ball might not get the height it needs to leave the bunker.
Play the shot from the middle of your stance and stay down on it all the way through impact. With any luck, you will see the ball pop up out of its hole in the sand before landing on a piece of green turf.
Use the Whole Club
Usually, when playing a bunker shot, you are going to choke down on the grip for control. That is not the case with a fried egg lie.
Since you need as much speed as possible to cut through the sand, you are going to want to use the whole club – keep your hands all the way up at the top of the grip as you would for a full shot.
This adjustment is going to require you to stand a bit taller than normal in the bunker, which is a good thing since your taller stance will help you to make a bigger turn in an effort to generate maximum club head speed.
Avoid the Fried Egg
Obviously, the best thing you can do with regard to a fried egg lie is to avoid one in the first place. You don't want to have to deal with this problem very often, as it is extremely difficult to get the ball up and down from a fried egg lie.
To steer clear of this bad situation, watch out for shots that might lead your ball to land in a bunker from a high trajectory. Its shots that come in high which usually turn into fried eggs, such as short approach shots played into the wind. When the conditions are right for your ball to land in a bunker from a steep angle, give yourself a bit of extra room to work and play safely away from the sand if at all possible.
There really isn't much good that can be said about a fried egg lie. When you do find yourself facing this ugly kind of lie in the bunker, lower your expectations immediately and work to just get the ball out of the sand in a single swing. While it might not be pretty or exciting, getting out in one shot is the key to keeping your overall round on track.