Escaping fairway bunkers

Published 29/03/2009 21:37:50

Your heart will inevitably sink as you stand on the tee watching your ball trickle into a fairway bunker. However, if you draw a good lie in a relatively shallow trap, you should still be able to attack the green with confidence. The key to success here lies in the quality of your strike. The following tips help you find the perfect contact so your ball emerges safely and powerfully from sand.


Club selection


The severity of the bunker lip will have a huge bearing on which club you choose to play. Whenever you find sand it is a cardinal sin to leave your ball in it, so getting the ball safely back into play should be your primary concern.

To help you decide which club to play, stand behind your ball and visualise the trajectory that you would expect the ball to take with each club. Now pick up an iron that you are certain will get you safely over the lip and you'll be able to attack the shot with confidence.


Grip control


By far the most common mistake when playing from a fairway trap is to make a heavy contact, which causes the ball to emerge only a few yards from the bunker. To reduce risk of hitting the sand before the ball, move your hands down the shaft by about an inch more than you usually would. Also squeeze the grip as hard as you can - your forearms will tense, reducing the arc of your swing and so helping you clip the ball off the top of the sand without taking an energy-sapping splash.


Firm footing


As you take your stance, shuffle your feet into the sand. This will provide you with a firm footing, ready to make an athletic swing. It will also give you a feel for how soft the sand is. If it is hard under foot, you might be able to get away with taking a small amount of sand through impact. If it feels soft, you need to concenrate even harder on making a crisp contact.


Keeping your height


For a clean strike it is always important to maintain a good posture during your swing. However when playing from sand there is absolutely no margin for error with regards to the strike, so it is worth paying even closer attention to your posture.

  1. Make sure that your back is straight at address and that there is a reasonable amount of flex in your knees.
  2. Keep your head at exactly the same height through the backswing and down to impact. If you dip it, the club will hit the sand before the ball. Only after you have struck the ball should your head rise as you turn your body towards the target. When attacking the green from a fairway trap have one simple swing thought - keep your height.


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