Tip Tuesday: How to Hit Out of a Fairway Bunker
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Your tee shot end up in a fairway bunker? Chances are, your lie’s not going to be too bad, and if that’s the case the last thing you want to do is try to “scoop” it out. Let Steve Dresser from the Steve Dresser Golf Academy at True Blue Golf Club in Pawleys Island, S.C. show you the proper technique.
We are here in the fairway bunker. That’s kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it? Fairway bunker. Well, obviously it’s a bunker that lines a fairway. So instead of your typical sand wedge, open face, slide it under the ball, high soft shot that lands on the green, we’re still trying to hit the ball essentially full distance. Now, bear in mind, it’s probably not going to go as far out of the sand as it will from the turf for a couple of reasons. We don’t want you to try to hit it quite as hard. You’re not going to be taking quite as big a swing. And when the ball gets compressed against the sand, there’s not really as much friction as there would be off a firmer turf.
You may also notice I’m holding a hybrid in one of my hands. Pretty good choice. If you’re a mid-level player, mid to high handicapper, if you’ve got a hybrid with, say, at least 24 degrees of loft on it, that would be really effective in here because you can hit behind the ball and the wide sole will keep it from digging in a lot. Not that you do want to hit behind the ball, but in the unlikely event you do a hybrid can really be forgiving.
So let’s talk about how to hit this shot. Typically, you’re going to work your feet in a little bit to help stabilize your stance. Some people will grip down a little bit farther since they’ve made themselves a little shorter by digging in with their feet. And believe it or not, the idea is to actually catch this ball on the down swing and hit some sand after you contact the ball, just like on turf. But people get in here and they think, “Oh no, I’m in the fairway bunker. I’ve got to come in and try and pick this ball out of here.” And they try to scoop it out and boom, they hit the lip because they’re trying to help the ball out of the bunker.
So obviously you’ve got to check the lie. If it’s a horrible, horrible lie, you just do whatever you can to get out of there. But most of the time in a fairway bunker your ball’s coming in at more of a level angle, it rolls out a little bit and you end up with a reasonably good lie. So feet are worked in a little bit, ball about centered. I might lean just a little bit left and you just try to stay really, really still on your back swing. I’m trying to keep my legs pretty quiet, and I’m just not going to take a real full swing here. I’m more intent on trying to make solid contact. So feet worked in a little bit, quiet legs, small back swing. And you notice I took a fair amount of sand there, didn’t I? But guess what? All that sand was after impact just like we want to do over there on the turf.
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