One of the most challenging shots to feel confident about is a fairway bunker shot. We face one of these shots per round and a good, solid shot is difficult if your stance is unstable. This weekend the PGA Tour visits TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. Apart from the par 3 holes, every hole but one has a fairway bunker.
How do the best players in the world hone their talents from the beach? There are a few PGA coaching principles I can share that will surely help. Aside from the presence of a bunker lip, shooting from a fairway bunker shouldn’t be as challenging with these basics.
A fairway bunker shot is any game you make out of the sand where you take a full swing and hope to hit the ball. Green side bunker shots are based on hitting more sand than ball and not what we’re referring to in this article. The player can use a hybrid, 6 iron or pitching wedge. When it comes to hitting the ball like a punch out of the grass, these are the three ingredients to the recipe for success.
There are three factors to consider when approaching your ball in a fairway bunker.
Your assessment of the situation will determine 80% of your success. Make sure you choose a club that will get the ball out easily. Don’t challenge the lip, get enough loft to get the ball without any problem. Fairway bunker shots tend to come deep out of the face. Next, look at the lie. Can you get a bat on the back of the ball? What is your posture, can you put your feet up and keep your balance?
These three factors will help determine your goal. The hole can be 150 yards away and that requires a 5 iron. Well, the lip and lie don’t allow for a 5-iron. Choose a new safe target depending on the club you can use. Don’t make the problem any worse by leaving the ball in the bunker. Your first priority is getting the ball to a better place.
Once you’ve chosen the best club for your shot, take your stance by sinking your feet in the sand. This gives you a little extra stability when you start swinging. Just standing on the sand gives your feet a tendency to slide. This will result in you missing the ball and hitting more sand. Get ready before the shot and your balance will get a lot better.
After taking your position, grasp the handle of the racket about as far as you have buried your feet in the sand. This setting ensures that you hit more ball and less sand on impact.
Build a successful strategy by analyzing the situation. Once you have completed this calculation and selected the best racket for the job, adjust those feet and trim that racket. From there, take your normal swing and your results will improve. Do not believe me? Check out the PGA Tour this weekend and compare your notes. They don’t miss a thing and that’s mainly because they have a similar strategy.
Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders gives him a unique perspective on the game. He is a writer on PGA.com and hosts the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoon at 3:00 PM EDT. Check out his PGA coaching articles archived here or his conversations on the air using this link on his website, The ProShow.
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