Golf Tips - How to Hit Out of Fairway Bunkers

By Joe Sullivan

This golf tip discusses the best one that I have ever received. No, it wasn't about "adding distance to your drives." Nor was it about "foolproof putting." Instead, believe it or not, the best tip I have ever received was on fairway bunkers.

The entire essence of the tip is as follows? "keep your lower body as still as possible when hitting a fairway bunker shot".

It was quite a long time ago that I received the tip. (At a summer golf camp and I believe his name was Dan Mulhearn.) It also seems eerie that ten years after the fact, I still think about it every time I enter a fairway bunker. Because of this, I have always felt comfortable and been able to execute out of a fairway trap, no matter what condition my game has been in. A big thing to remember is that because it is a less aggressive swing, you will need to take extra club.

As for the over the top slicer, this softer lower body will result in less spin of your hips. Anytime you spin out and get that right side moving out and over, this will lead to chopping. Whenever you chop, especially in a fairway bunker, you have almost zero chance of executing the shot. Instead, you need to pick the ball as clean as possible. This quiet lower body will help you do this.

To further encourage this "picking it clean" action, your right shoulder should feel like it remains stationary to begin the downswing.

Here is a checklist for you when you enter the dreaded fairway bunker:

  1. Take one or two extra clubs.
  2. Place the ball a little farther back in stance than normal.
  3. Dig in a little (sand is slippery if you don't get to the bottom of it!)
  4. Now for the fun part'swing while keeping your lower body as still as possible.

A couple of good images to help achieve this are to "freeze your lower body like a camera tripod", or pretend like you are "playing on ice".

Use these thoughts on shots from about 80 yards and up. Anything less than that is a separate animal altogether and takes a few adjustments. I will get to that in a future tip. *

Columns ©1999 Joseph K. Sullivan and GolfLink Inc. All rights reserved.




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