Playing a wood from the bunker

Published 15/11/2008 15:42:33

It's frustrating when your ball lands in a fairway bunker, especially if you've notched up a good score. But be positive - all is not lost.


A well negotiated strike could land you in a position to save shots. Most fairway bunkers are shallower than those beside the green - and are often less difficult than they first appear.


Be flexible over your choice of club - an inspired shot is often the result of creative club selection. If the ball is sitting up well, a fair distance from the front of the bunker, it is much easier to get out using a utility wood than an iron.


The small head and low centre of gravity of the wood allow more weight to pass underneath the ball and so life it up quickly. And the smooth rounded shape of the head prevents snagging in the sand which often happens with the long irons.



Club Choice


One of the keys to success with a fairway bunker shot is choosing the right club. An iron is the obvious choice - but in many situations the wood may give a better combination of lift and distance.


Weigh up the facts carefully - enter the bunker, take your stance to the ball and visualize the shot coming out. You must decide which club is best for getting over the lip of the bunker and reaching the green. To work out the lift, consider how far the ball is from the front of the hazard.


The 5 wood lifts the ball higher and sends it further than a 2 iron, because it has more loft and a longer shaft. But if you feel that a wood is not going to clear the bunker, play safe - take a lofted iron instead.



Assess The Lie


It's important to study the lie of the ball carefully. If the ball is sitting down or partly buried in the bunker, choose a lofted iron club and play a safe shot. But if the lie is reasonabe and you have a good distance between the ball and the front of the bunker, pick a 5 or even 7 wood depending on what you carry in your golf bag.


Positive Approach


After you select your club and take your set-up, be single minded in your approach - block out distractions and focus purely on your objective. Set aside thoughts of failure - a positive approach gives a better chance of achieving your target.


Take a firm footing in the sand - to avoid a 2-stroke penalty, remember not to ground the club at address. Grip down the club for extra control and sweep the ball cleanly off the sand with a smooth and purposeful three-quarter swing.

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