By Chris Foley
Hitting a greenside bunker shot and a fairway bunker shot require very different techniques. In a greenside bunker shot, we don’t actually hit the golf ball. We hit the sand and the disbursement of sand takes the ball out of the bunker. In a fairway bunker, we try to hit all ball and no sand.
To hit successful fairway bunker shots, keep the following in mind:
• Choose a club with enough loft to get the ball out of the bunker. Ideally this will be enough club to reach the green, however, our first priority needs to be successfully clearing the wall of the bunker.
• If clearing the lip of the bunker is not an issue, select one more club than you would normally for that distance. For example, if your stock 8 iron is 150 yards and you have 150 yards to the green, choose your 7 iron. Because of the technique we use in the fairway bunker, the ball tends to fly shorter.
• Place the ball position slightly further back than normal and set up with approximately 65-70% of your weight on your lead foot.
• In executing the shot, you need to “pick” the golf ball. In other words, you need to hit the ball more with the leading edge low on the golf ball, but without taking any sand. To do this, make a shorter backswing with very little weight transfer; keep the majority of weight on your lead foot. In the forward swing, maintain your posture, and hit the ball without taking any sand.
If you practice using this technique your fairway bunker play will dramatically improve and you will have less anxiety when you golf ball happens to find a bunker!