We all remember PGA Tour player Bill Haas’ incredible water blast shot at the FedEx Cup that won him the championship a few years back. He made it look easy (as they all seem to do!). This shot is actually not as hard as it may look to the typical weekend golfer. I usually will recommend that if your ball is in the water to take the penalty and take the drop due to the unknowns that lurk under the surface of the water and ground beneath your ball. Now if that $2 Nassau is on the line, the conditions are right and you’re not worried about getting a little wet and possibly dirty, here’s how you can impress your playing partners.
If any part of your ball is showing above the water, it will be playable. The way the shot is played would be simply like playing a normal or plugged bunker shot (See Photos 1 and 2), depending on how much the ball is submerged in the water. There’s one big difference: DO NOT open the clubface! The club you are using needs to pierce the surface of the water first; the water displaced with the club force will get the ball out. If at least half of the ball or more is showing above the water, you can treat it as a normal bunker shot — except, keep the face square to the target. If more than half the ball is submerged, than you need to treat as a plugged bunker lie, which requires a very steep and descending angle of attack with an abbreviated follow through (See Photos 3 and 4). Instead of exploding the sand, you simply splash the water. How deep the ball is submerged will determine the force of your swing (Photos 5 and 6).
The ball will come out with very little or no spin, so plan on it rolling when it hits the green. Unfortunately this is a shot we don’t get out and practice very often, but if it does come up try these tips — and don’t be afraid to get wet.
Randy Chang is Director of Instruction and Golf Channel Academy Instructor at Journey Golf Academy at Pechanga and Aloha Academy of Golf in Southern California