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Adjusting For Slope in the Sand
Dealing With Uneven Lies in the Sand

If you are like most golfers when you get in the sand the main thing you are thinking about is just getting the ball out of the bunker. The second

Learn how to adjust your set up and swing for an uneven in the bunker.Adjust For Slope in the Bunker
thing you are probably thinking about is getting it to land somewhere (anywhere) on the green. In third place is the set up. How much do you want to open the club face? How deep do you want to dig your feet into the sand? Where do you want to play the ball? Is the sand hard or soft? You can see the many questions that flood your head. What we all often forget about though is the slope that we are standing on in the sand. While of course we would notice a severe slope, it's easy to miss a slight one and a slope can really alter your angle of attack, affect your swing path and thus send the ball where you don't want it to go! Honestly, how often do you have a completely flat lie in a bunker? 9 times out of 10? 5 times out of 10? The number is probably lower than that because that little white ball just loves to nestle up on a downslope at the front of the bunker or on the up slope at the back.

The Effects of Slope on Your Bunker Swing

How do uneven lies in the bunker affect your swing? Actually, they affect it the same way they do from the fairway. Downhill lies make it more difficult for you to turn, force a more upright swing and send the ball off to the right (for right handed players). Uphill lies do the exact opposite. They tend to flatten your swing making you swing more around your body and hook the ball to the left. With either lie it's knowing the adjustments to make to your stance and set up that can either make your result come out like a regular swing off of a flat lie, or send you hunting deep in the woods for yet another miracle shot to pull off.

Does an Uneven Lie in a Bunker Affect Short or Long Bunker Shots More?

In a fairway bunker you are typically making a full swing with a longer and lower lofted club, so side spin will be more pronounced. In a green side bunker on the other hand, you aren't trying to hit the ball as far and are typically using a higher lofted club that will put a tremendous amount of backspin on the ball. You will notice the effects of an uphill or downhill slope (like side spin) much more on a fairway bunker shot for these reasons. Once you adjust your set up properly the execution remains the same as any bunker shot. Make sure that you open your face appropriately for the texture of the sand and the shot the situation demands. Be sure to accelerate as always and make a good splash an inch or two behind the ball. The basics of a bunker shot won't change, so you want to make sure that you have those down before attempting to hit off of difficult lies.

The Situation:

You've ended up on an uneven lie in the bunker and aren't sure how to properly adjust your stance or your swing.

The Solution:

When dealing with a slope in the bunker there are two main issues you need to add to your normal routine and set up.
1) Make sure that you align your hips and shoulders with the slope of the sand so that they are running parallel with the ground.
2) Make sure to swing along the slope. Follow the slope of the sand with the head of your club as you swing away from the ball and as you swing down through the ball.
From here set up with your stance, ball position and alignment as you would for any greenside bunker shot. If it is a fairway bunker shot be sure to aim left to allow for a slice when it's a downhill slope and aim to the right to allow for a hook when dealing with an uphill slope.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
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