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Have a plugged bunker shot? Try these nifty tips from a short

May 29, 2023

Playing from the sand is tricky enough, but playing a plugged bunker shot can be downright terrifying for many amateurs, as it requires great skill, some athleticism, and the right fundamentals in order to just get it out of the trap.

But next time you’re staring at a plugged bunker shot, wouldn't it be nice to approach it with confidence, knowing you’ve got the ability to stick it close? Of course!

While it sounds impossible, with the help of Parker McLachlin, aka the Short Game Chef, you can master these tricky bunker lies just like the pros.

In the video above, McLachlin walks us through the steps to modernize your short game, providing the ingredients to tackle the most difficult shots. So take a look at what the chef has to say about overcoming a plugged bunker shot.

One thing McLachlin first talks about in the video is changing mindsets when it comes to approaching a plugged bunker shot.

Instead of thinking that you need to use a "square-to-closed clubface," McLachlin says to rethink things, and he suggests using an open clubface instead.

"You do not have to play a plugged bunker shot with a square-to-closed clubface," he says. "I actually think it's easier and more efficient to play it with an open [club]face."

As McLachlin demonstrates both the old way of hitting a plugged shot versus the new way, he highlights some of the differences.

"The way it used to be done is, you’d get the clubface nice and closed, and you’d try to almost shovel this thing out. Doing this doesn't really leave you with a ton of finesse and touch as to how the ball would come out. Sometimes it would come out great, and sometimes it would come out too far."

This is where he says it's important to add some athleticism and finesse, updating your setup for improved results.

"Here's how the modern player is playing this plugged bunker shot," he says. "We’re going to have the [club]face slightly open, and the shaft is pretty neutral. I’m going to get a fraction closer to the ball in order to steepen that angle of attack. I don't want to be far away from [the ball] and have [the swing] be rounded.

"All I’m focusing on is this hinge up and going straight back down, using a minimal follow through."

As he hits his shot within a couple of feet from the pin using the more modern approach, he shares why this way is more efficient.

"I’m pretty happy with it, but I can control that [type of result]. That ball comes out with way more softness, and way more touch and finesse than the other one; which is just a guess."

If you’re interested in seeing more from the Short Game Chef, check out McLachlin's website, where you’ll find more ingredients to help improve your short game.

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