By: Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk
All golfers regardless of ability are going to end up in the sand at some point. A key stroke saving move comes from knowing how to properly play a fairway bunker shot.
When your ball comes to rest in a fairway bunker these are the important things you need to consider:
- Look at the height of the lip of the bunker that is on your target line. This will determine how much loft you need to get out of the bunker on the first try.
- Identify the lie. Is it a clean lie sitting up in the sand or a buried lie where the ball is barely visible? If it is a buried lie you want to treat it like a green side bunker shot and use a great deal of loft and splash it out. The first goal is to get out of the bunker not to make a career shot. If the ball is a fried egg and you can barely see it under the sand, you can also hood the face of your club and hit down on the ball to pop it out.
- Note if there is any slope. If it is an uphill lie you will want to take less loft (if you were going to use a 6 iron use a 5 iron instead) as the ball will travel higher coming off the upslope and not carry as far. If you have a downhill lie take more loft (if you were going to use a 7 iron use an 8 iron) as you will need to get the ball up a bit higher.
Clean Lie in the Fairway Bunker
If you have a flat clean lie in the fairway bunker use the following process:
- Make sure you have a stable stance. Do NOT dig in with your feet as you would in a greenside bunker as you need to pick the ball clean thus you do not want to have your feet lower than the ball.
- Take a ½ a club more than you think so that you can swing more smoothly. If you are trying to “kill” the ball or are too aggressive there is a tendency to hit down on the ball and dig your club face into the sand.
- Have a VERY quiet lower body throughout your swing. Too much sway in your swing or weight shift can cause the club head to dig in, and you want to hit the ball without touching much sand.
- Choke up on the club an inch or so to encourage picking the ball clean.
- Play the ball 2 inches ahead of the center of your stance to ensure you hit it on the up swing and hit it cleanly out of the sand.
- Make a normal swing and make sure to finish your swing and swing through the ball.
- Take several clubs with you to the bunker to asses which will work best and get you over the lip. Do not bring the clubs into the bunker and put them down to rest. Keep them outside the bunker or else it is a penalty.
- Do not ground your club as you are addressing the ball. This is also a penalty.
- Always make sure to rake the bunker properly after you leave for the next player. Note where that particular golf course you are playing likes to place the rakes. Some prefer them out of the bunker some prefer them in.
Use these tips and watch your scores fall the next time you are stuck in the sand!
Lisa is the 7-time Canadian Long Drive Champion for women, a golf entertainer and a motivational speaker. Lisa can be reached through Claudio at Claudio@golf-south.net