Playing Better Shots from the Fairway Bunkers
It is never a happy sight to see your tee shot hop into a fairway bunker. It goes without saying that playing an approach shot from a fairway bunker is more difficult than playing from the fairway itself, so you obviously want to keep your ball on the grass whenever possible. However, hitting a fairway bunker from time to time is going to happen, so you need to have a good plan for getting out of the bunker quickly and as close to the green as possible.
In general, you don’t want to change your swing too significantly when you land in a fairway bunker. You are comfortable with your ‘normal’ swing, so don’t mess with it too much or the results could be ugly. With that said, a few simple tips can help you to improve your performance from the fairway sand and save a few strokes along the way.
- Make sure you get out. Whatever you do, you want to make sure the first shot you hit from the fairway bunker is the only one you have to hit. Choose a club with enough loft that you are sure you can clear the lip and get out of the bunker. Even if you don’t hit a great shot, getting the ball back on the grass should be priority #1.
- Dig your feet in, and choke down. It is always a good idea, in any bunker, to wiggle your feet into the sand for added traction. At the same time, choke down on the club to compensate for how much you have dug into the sand. With these two adjustments made, you can make something close to your regular swing without having too much trouble hitting the ball cleanly.
- Make a flatter swing. If you swing down steeply into the ball, hitting the shot fat is a real possibility. Instead, make a flatter swing than you normally would, and try to pick the ball off the top of the sand. This adjustment takes a little practice, so work on it on the range before heading onto the course.
- Don’t swing too hard. Even after you dig into the sand, it is easy to lose your balance and slip when swinging from a fairway bunker. Because of that, don’t try to swing too hard and maximize the distance you can get from the shot. Rather, just take a comfortable swing and make sure you get good contact – even if your shot doesn’t quite reach the green.