How to Hit Your Golf Ball from Fairway Bunkers

By Jim McLean

Fairway Bunker Shots

Here is a place were we have to understand exactly what we are trying to do. If you get some key components into your mind and then into your swing you are going to have no trouble in fairway bunkers. Most people do have problems. It is very easy to hit a little bit behind the ball. If you hit just slightly behind the ball in a bunker you are going to lose tremendous distance. It will never get to the pin. Let me give you the best tips that I have heard.

Tips to Play Out

  1. First is, make sure you pick a club that is going to clear the lip. That is number one, we have to get out of here in one shot. We have seen even Tour Players sometimes get a little too aggressive hit the edge of the lip and come right back into the bunker. So make sure you get a club that can get over the front edge of the bunker. I have chosen a 7-iron right here and I would hit this 7-iron out of a bunker maybe 100 and 50 yards. I am not going to hit a full swing shot out of a fairway bunker, I would like to back down one club, maybe even two. Easier swing. Not too much leg action. A couple of other things.
  2. I would like to grip down about one inch on the club because when I stand in here I get my feet secured I get a little bit lower than I would in the fairway.
  3. Another tip that Bran Faxon has given me is to look more at the top of the ball, at least think of the equator of the ball, but he even thinks higher, at the top of the ball. If you hit a little bit think you are ok, a little bit fat you are going to go nowhere. You do not want to dive down or hit under this golf ball, that is not what we are trying to do, we are trying to pick this ball out. In order to do that I try to set up where I am going to catch that ball first.
  4. Most people do a lot better by having the ball back just a little bit in their stance, about to the center for a 7-iron. Grip down slightly and then concentrate on hitting higher on the golf ball.
  5. We do not want to set up with our weight back or under or by any chance touch the sand on the way back. I saw this happen recently at a big tournament where a person touched a leaf on the backswing, that is a two stroke penalty, we don't want that to happen. You have to hover the club above the golf ball.
  6. From there the thing that I think about and teach that has been successful is keeping my chin up. I try to keep my chin high when I go to hit the golf shot. Not drop down.

Now Put it All Together

I am going to make an easy swing, I am not going to drive off with my legs. I am going to be kind of quite and just pick the ball off the top of the sand. Now if you adhere to those keys you are going to hit a lot better shots out of the bunker. You are going to take just a think cut of sand, or maybe not much sand at all, but you must hit that golf ball first. Do everything you can to not hit behind the golf ball.

About the Instructor

Jim McLean
Jim McLean
Jim McLean Golf School
Doral Golf Resort and Spa
4400 NW 87th Avenue
Miami, FL 33178
Tel: 800-72-DORAL