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Clearing the Lip in Bunkers
Using Proper Body Alignment to Get Loft Out of the Bunker

Face to Face With the Lip of a Bunker

Clearing the lip of a bunker can be challengingClear the Lip of a Bunker Easily

There is sometimes nothing more intimidating on the golf course than staring straight into a deep lip on a bunker. It kind of makes you feel a bit for those PGA Tour pros that face extreme pot hole bunkers over in Scotland and Ireland during the Open Championship. Clearing the lip on a greenside or fairway bunker can be a challenge for a lot of players. Obviously the higher the lip, the more the difficulty, but a lot of people actually clear it by more than they think. If you have ever stood to the side and watched a good player hitting out of a deep greenside bunker, you noticed how high the ball actually came out. It's a visual trick. Because they are standing down low in the bunker, the person in the bunker perceives that their ball barely cleared, while the person watching sees that it actually cleared by a few feet. So in most cases, good players don't have to worry. Higher handicappers though, who struggle to get good loft out of the sand, are the ones who have a need for concern in this situation. Have no fear. It's not as hard as you may think.

There are as in any shot a number of factors that have to come together. Club selection, stance, swing, ball position and speed are just a handful of the things to consider in the bunker. This article however is focused on getting you the correct body position you need to loft the ball over the lip.

Align Your Body With the Slope of the Ground

With the lip comes an uphill slope. The key here is to not fight the slope or work against it. Just as you would with an uphill lie, you need to make sure that your body is aligned parallel with the slope so that you can swing along the slope and not into it. This means that your hips and shoulders should run parallel with the uphill slope of the sand and surrounding land. In turn, your angle of attack will be shallow allowing you to catch the ball on the upswing and loft it out of the trap with the added loft on your clubface. Aligning your body against the slope has the opposite effect. If your shoulders and hips are angled down (opposite the uphill slope) your swing plane and angle of attack will become very steep. In this case, your clubface will hood down and the lack of loft along with the steep angle of attack will push the ball down and with a low trajectory. The result is... you'd better duck quick cause it's coming back at you! The worst part is you get to do it all again. Nothing like getting a second chance on the golf course!

The Situation:

You are having trouble adequately clearing the lip on bunkers.

The Solution:

When you are getting set up to the ball take notice of the slope of the sand leading up to the lip of the bunker as well as the slope of the ground around the bunker. Hold your club up against your shoulders and hips to make sure that they are aligned parallel to the slope of the ground. Try as best you can to maintain this alignment through the swing. After getting your body angles aligned correctly you should start clearing the lip of the bunker. Keep in mind though that ball position, clubface posiiton, angle of attack and so on have to be correct as well.

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
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