Strategy dot Address dot Whole Swing dot Feel

Top 10 Great Fairway Bunker Shots

As these videos show, you can hit the ball well from fairway bunkers if you learn to execute certain fundamentals of the shot.

  1. Select one club more for the fairway bunker shot than you would for the same shot from a grass lie. This shot will not fly as far because your clubface is pinchng the ball down into softer sand rather than into firmer turf.
  2. Select the club with enough loft to easily clear the top lip of the bunker along your target line. It is better to hit the ball 15 yards short of the green than catch the top lip of the bunker and watch the ball shamefully roll back down the bunker toward you.
  3. Aim for the middle of the green, not for the flag stick because your shots from the fairway sand will not be as accurate as shots from the turf. You give yourself a greater margin for error and a better chance of putting your next shot by playing to the middle of the green.
  4. Dig your feet about 1/2" into the sand. This ensures good footing and a stable lower body base, which are critical factors in executing your normal swing while standing in soft sand.
  5. Choke up about 1/2" on the club's grip. This positions your hands the correct distance from the ball since you are standing 1/2" deeper in the sand than the surface of the sand, where the ball sits.
  6. Hit the ball before the sand. It is best to play the ball from the middle of your stance to make sure you strike the ball first. The fairway bunker shot is like any iron shot, where you must pinch the ball down against the ground to impart maximum backspin to the ball. Then it will fly straight and high to its target.

Here is an example swing key from the Sand Play Greenside chapter of Modern Golf Thoughts:


Take a slightly wider stance than you would for a fairway shot with the same club. This restricts your hip rotation during the swing, which preserves your balance throughout the swing. It is more difficult to keep your balance hitting a shot standing in sand than standing on solid ground.

The Sand Play Fairway chapter of Modern Golf Thoughts has 15 swing keys in these sections--Strategy / Address / Whole Swing / Feel.

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