Explaining the Fried Egg Lie in Golf and How to Play It

A fried egg can be delicious! Unless the one on your plate is the fried-egg lie in golf. That fried egg is a nasty species of bunker shot that many recreational golfers — all golfers, really — dread seeing.

A "fried egg" or "fried egg lie" in golf happens when your golf ball hits soft or wet sand and winds up partially buried in the bunker. Only the top half or so of the golf ball remains visible above the sand, looking, in a way, like the yolk in the middle of the white part of a fried egg.

It's a very similar thing to a "buried lie" or a "plugged lie." Sticklers for exactitude might say, however, that "fried egg" is slightly different from those two. With a fried-egg lie, the golf ball typically splashes down into softer sand, creating a little mini-crater in the bunker with a splash ring around the ball. So the ball winds up sitting in its own little hole.

How to Play a Fried-Egg Bunker Shot

There are two schools of thought on how to play a fried-egg lie. One is take your normal stance for a bunker shot and open the clubface of your most-lofted wedge. Then take a very steep backswing, and hit down on the ball. You want your club entering the sand very steeply, and just behind the ball (as opposed to an inch or two behind the ball like for a normal bunker shot). Really stab down on the ball — don't even think of a follow-through, your club is going to stop in the sand because it will really dig down.

In that method, you are basically plopping or chunking the ball out of its fried-egg lie. The ball will come out with no spin, so it will roll when it hits the green.

And here is a video with Hank Haney demonstrating a different technique for playing the fried egg:

Which works best for you? That might depend entirely on you and what you're comfortable playing. Try them both. But sand conditions also matter. If the sand is wet or thick and heavy, the chunk-it-out method might work better. If the sand is light, fluffy, splashy, the second method might work better. Try to find different sand conditions during your practice time and experiment.

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