HOW DO YOU HIT A FAIRWAY BUNKER SHOT?
You hit a fairway bunker shot by hitting the ball first and then the sand. This shot is similar to playing iron shots on the fairway with at least one noticeable difference - your footing. If the sand is firm, you can take your normal address position, but it can be helpful to anchor your trailing foot by digging in a little, like a pitcher in baseball. On the other hand, if the sand is loose or fluffy, you will want to wiggle your feet until you reach firm sand below.
Above, Scott Bunker - Class A PGA Member and Director of Golf at Red Mountain Ranch Country Club, shares a step-by-step lesson and demonstrates how to play a fairway bunker shot. Below, Rickie Fowler, PGA Tour Player, and Golf Digest Playing Editor and Rickard Strongert share additional insights for hitting the green out of the fairway bunker. The most critical element discussed in this lesson is the address and different approaches to stabilizing your feet in a fairway bunker.
The Fairway Bunker Shot
Being a hero is not the goal on a fairway bunker shot. Getting out of the bunker as far as possible is the key here. If your shot comes to rest in the fairway bunker and you've still got a long distance to carry, it's essential on this shot (different from your greenside bunker shot) that we want to hit the golf ball first. If you hit the sand first, the ball may come out, but you'll lose all the power. As a result, you're going to lose a lot of distance.
So, the technique you're striving to use is to catch the golf ball first. You'll get a feel for the sand as you get set up. If the sand is firm, you can feel confident in being more aggressive with your shot. Otherwise, it would help if you wiggled your feet until you found a suitable firm foundation. Even if the sand is firm, it can be helpful to drive you trailing foot into the sand on a small angle for best footing and traction. Next, grip the club normally and set the handle slightly forward.
Additionally, you'll learn a little on my target foot. The ball is centered too slightly right of center. The purpose of that positioning is to ensure good solid club ball contact. This correct setup will help ensure that you'll get your maximum distance on this shot.
A pro tip is not to get greedy with your club selection. While you want to set up and hit the ball for distance, if you take to straight a club out of a fairway bunker, you might be asking for trouble. Remember, we're delofting the club by leaning the handle forward. If there is no lip in the bunker, you may be able to use your fairway wood or hybrid. A fairway wood is a long, low lofted club, so you may want to use a more lofted club if a lip is in front of you. Minimize your risks. Get yourself out of trouble with good solid club ball contact, and you'll be happy with the results.
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