Bunker Shots: Fairway Bunkers

How to Hit from Fairway Bunkers

In this lesson we’ll look at some key tips for playing fairway bunker golf shots.

Fairway bunkers tend to be a bit bigger and flatter than green-side bunkers – giving you an opportunity to take a less lofted club than the sand wedge and get the golf ball further up the fairway.

That being said, the cardinal sin is getting too greedy, hitting the bunker lip and leave the golf ball in the sand.

In the video below you’ll see a useful tip for gauging whether a certain club can launch the ball high enough, quickly enough to avoid catching the lip.

I also cover the basic set up and swing technique you’ll want to adopt for fairway bunker shots:

Fairway Bunker shots – Video Summary

  • The line of the shaft when you step of your clubface will give you a preview of the ball flight angleTo judge whether a particular club can clear the lip, place the club head on the ground and gently step on the club face so that the back of the club head is flush with the ground (club face is pointing directly at the sky).

  • Fairway bunker ball flight preview trickThe angle that the club shaft makes is the trajectory that the ball will fly at. Obviously you need to do this at the side of the fairway bunker as touching the sand will result in a penalty.

  • Use a club with a little more loft to make sure to get out of a fairway bunkerWhatever club you think you can get away with, add one. So if you think a 7 iron will clear the lip, take an 8 iron.

  • Place the ball in the middle of your stance, not forward for fairway bunker shotsSetting up, take a standard set up but move the ball back slightly – to about the centre of your stance. That will encourage a cleaner contact.

  • Make sure to hit the ball first for fairway bunker shotsUnlike a green-side bunker shot we don’t want to hit the sand first – your aim is to hit the ball and then take a divot of sand.

  • Don't leave your weight on your back foot at impact for fairway bunker shotsDuring your downswing make a good move to your left side through impact (for the right-handed golfer). There can be a tendency to stay back on the right foot leading to a thin or fat shot.

  • Grip your club tightly when hitting fairway bunker shotsIncrease your grip pressure more than usual – this helps to prevent the sand twisting the club and slowing it down too much.

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