Everyone has those shots where they know it’s just not going to well. For many golfers the fairway bunker shot fits this description. The fairway bunker provides the ultimate test of your ball striking skills. There is no forgiveness. Hit slightly behind the ball and it goes nowhere. Hit it thin and the ball could go anywhere. Despite all the bad things that can happen, the shot is doable as we see from professionals on TV each weekend. You just need to make a few adjustments to your setup and swing. Use these four tips and you’ll find it easier to make solid contact from fairway bunkers:
One of the keys to making solid contact is controlling your golf swing. The longer the club the tougher it is to control (it’s easier to control a wedge than a driver). By gripping down an inch or so it becomes much easier to control. This added control will help you make solid contact.
Center the Ball in the Stance
When hitting a normal iron shot you should position the ball slightly ahead of the center of your stance depending on the club. However, in the fairway bunker there is much more of a premium on hitting the ball first. Centering the golf ball in your stance ensures that you make contact with the ball while the club is coming down. This helps to provide that extra bit of solidness you need to hit a good shot from the sand.
Make a Smaller Swing
Again, the fairway bunker shot is all about making precise contact with the ball. The bigger the golf swing you make the more clubhead speed you create but you lose consistency. Instead of stepping in the bunker and making your 100% swing, think of the shot like a knockdown or ¾ shot. Make a backswing that is slightly shorter than normal and a follow through that is slightly shorter than normal. The smaller swing will reduce your clubhead speed but it will make it easier to make solid contact and hit a good shot.
Take One More Club
Hitting fairway bunker shots more solid will be a big improvement but you still need to hit the shot the correct distance. The adjustments we’ve made to help make solid contact will reduce clubhead speed. To counteract this more club is needed. Another reason to use one extra club is that sand is less forgiving than grass. If you hit fractions of an inch behind the ball from the sand you will lose much more distance than from grass. Reduce your fear of the fairway bunker shot. Use these tips and you’ll find it much easier to make solid contact and have good results from the sand.
Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org/.