It's tough to hit a decent drive only to later find it has rolled into a fairway bunker -- especially if you're a good distance from the hole.

While an iron is often the safe play, there are times when you'll need the extra distance that a longer club can provide so don't hesitate to think of hitting your hybrid or fairway wood from a fairway bunker.

If you're playing a par-5 or a long par-4 and you need everything you've got to reach the green, first take a look at the bunker. If it is shallow and has a low lip to carry, then a fairway wood could be a safe bet. If the bunker has any upslope that you have to carry to get out, then you should probably opt for a shorter club.

Also take a look at the lie. If it's plugged or a fried-egg, it will be tougher to make solid contact with your fairway wood and best to go with an iron to get your ball back onto the fairway.

But if the lie is good and the lip is low and you need the distance, give it a rip with your fairway wood. Dig your feet in a bit for a solid base, choke down on the club to compensate for the fact you've lowered yourself by digging in and think contact with the ball.

This is not a greenside bunker, where you want to splash sand. You want to pick the ball from the surface. Swing evenly and be sure to accelerate through the ball.

A fairway wood with its larger sole takes a shallower path through the sand than an iron and is often the right play. So the next time your drive has kicked off the fairway and into a bunker, don't be shy about reaching for the spoon.