Fairway Bunkers - 3 Keys To Escape
We enjoyed a lot of your participation and comment on the series on bunker play, so we’re going to revisit that topic . . . but this time, it’s those pesky fairway bunkers that we’re going to address. Aaron M. appreciated the series, but said fairway bunkers gave him problems, and he asked this:
"Do you have any suggestions or techniques for knocking it on the green with an iron or hybrid?Well, Aaron, first things first, you are the winner of a new EIDOLON wedge! Congratulations. Now to those fairway bunker shots.
The first thing you must do when you find your ball in a fairway bunker is assess your options. If you find a severe uphill, downhill or sidehill lie, “knocking it on the green” is probably not a realistic expectation. Same goes for a lie that is semi plugged or fried egg, or just not sitting very nicely. We even see the pros sometime opt for a wedge shot out sideways or only half way up the fairway, so as to prevent the possibility of this turning out disastrous.
But most of the time, your ball will find it’s way to a decent lie in a fairway bunker and putting it on the green . . . or close . . . is not that big a problem, if you have a technique that you can trust. I’ve broken it down into three keys to performance from fairway bunkers that anyone can learn quickly and execute. Let’s examine them.
Key #1 - Take more club. Fairway bunker shots require precise contact to fly right, so you’ll want to make a swing that is about 85% of your normal swing speed. Always take one . . . or even two . . . more club into the bunker than you think the yardage and conditions call for. You’ll also be gripping down on the club about an inch will take some distance off.
Key #2 – Take extra care in your set up. You’ll want to have the ball a little further forward than normal so that you can sweep it off the sand at the bottom of your swing arc, avoiding the descending blow you would normally have for an iron or hybrid swing. I like to feel the ball is aligned with my left heel. Dig your feet into the sand a little to give yourself a firm footing. Check your alignment so that you are aimed at the “safe” side of the flag. We’re relaxing our expectations, remember, so pay real close attention to your alignment, especially if there is water or bunkers to carry.
Key #3 – Keep it slow and deliberate. Your goal is to make solid contact with a sweeping swing path. And when precision is in order, you have to slow down your swing. Focus on a good body turn and keep your hands quiet, so that the club can release naturally.
With a little practice, you can eliminate the intimidation factor of fairway bunkers. Next time you are out for a late evening practice nine, hit some shots from fairway bunkers to get the feel for this. Like every other golf shot you try to learn, this one takes some time to overcome the jitters.
Don’t forget to send in your questions about the short game, equipment or anything golf-y in general and I’ll try to get to it. If I do, you’ll win a new EIDOLON wedge of your choice.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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Tim Horan says:
Just a Quickie...Keep the backswing shorter than normal but to ephasize what Terry has said ADD SOME CLUB to the distance needed. I have been playing fairway bunkers with my 24 degree hybrid even down to 150 yds; with a crisp clean contact and the right power level the shot will be low and check up on the second bounce.
always think ball first! that has helped me tremendously with fairway bunker shots. I actually dont mind them at all anymore.
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