How to Beat Fairway Bunkers

By Bill Herrfeldt

Golfers may learn how to get the ball close to the flag from a green-side sand bunker, but they are at a loss when they have a sand shot from way back in the fairway. They try to use what they have learned about short sand shots, but those rules are useless for this kind of shot. The next time you find your ball in a fairway sand bunker, don't panic. Simply remember these simple instructions and you'll turn fear into success.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Step 1
Hold the golf club firmly at the top of the grip, unlike what you might have been taught regarding sand shots that are closer in, because you will need to hit this shot much farther. Gain greater footing by wiggling your feet so that the soles of your golf shoes are about 1 to 2 inches from the surface. You will also learn something about the consistency of the sand by doing this.
Step 2
Set your feet nearer to the ball than you would in a green-side bunker, because you'll need a more upright swing. And unlike a close-in bunker shot, take as little sand as you can, because you will need to hit the ball farther.
Step 3
Take a full swing when you're in a fairway bunker, as opposed to picking up your club abruptly when you are in a green-side sand bunker. The reason you take the club up on a short bunker shot is because you will hit a couple of inches behind the ball, making the sand propel the ball rather than your clubhead. Because your ball must travel farther, you should hit the ball directly with the clubface to advance the ball toward the target.
Step 4
Don't try to help the ball out of the sand; if you have chosen the right club, it will make your ball clear the lip of the bunker. Take your normal swing and accelerate it through the point of impact. The No. 1 cause of missed bunker shots is that the player quits on the shot because he has little faith in the club being able to get his ball out. Take this to the bank. There's nothing worse than not clearing the bunker and having the ball come back to your feet.
Step 5
Practice makes perfect, because perfecting this shot can save you strokes if encounter these conditions a time or two during every round. If there is a practice sand trap at your golf club, make it part of your practice routine to hit a few long bunker shots. Otherwise, try hitting a few long shots off of bare dirt, making contact with the ball and taking as little dirt as you can without "skulling" the shots.

About The Author

Bill Herrfeldt specializes in finance, sports and the needs of retiring people, and has been published in the national edition of "Erickson Tribune," the "Washington Post" and the "Arizona Republic." He graduated from the University of Louisville.


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