When playing a fairway bunker shot the most important thing, as it is with green side bunkers, is get it out. This should be first on your check list. Here are a few things to help not only get the ball out, but down the fairway and even on the green in a scoring position.
- Assess your situation, not all fairway bunkers are created equal. Don’t think because you are 180 yards out that means you must hit that 3wd or 3 hybrid. If the bunker is deep or has a high lip on it perhaps a 9 iron or wedge back to the fairway is your best bet. Sometimes you have to take your medicine and not create more problems by risking it.
- Like most golf shots set up is key to this shot. If the bunker is fairly shallow and it is possible to hit most clubs, then try to take one extra club than what would be normal for that distance. For a 7 iron distance, take a 6 iron. Choke down on the club slightly because you need to dig your feet in and gripping down on the club will allow you to pick the ball cleaner and not hit the sand first. Play the ball about middle of stance and put a little more weight on your forward foot, this will also increase the chances of striking the ball first with as little sand contact as possible.
- When making the swing try to keep your lower body very still and maintain knee flex This shot should consist mostly of a shoulder and arm swing. With this limited motion with the lower body it will also enhance your chances of striking the ball first
- Follow through, don’t stop the swing and do not try to help the ball get airborne; let the loft of the club do the work. Many people in bunkers try help the ball up by falling backwards while giving the shot a lifting motion. This usually leads to the ball being struck about half way up and the ball comes out low and hits the edge of the bunker.