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Golf Tips for Fairway Bunker Play

Sand traps and bunkers might not be the most fun places to hit out of, but they must be mastered to save some strokes on your game. I would say that every golfer (myself included) needs to practice more on their bunker play. The problem is that when you're trying to focus on drives, iron play, putting, chipping, etc., it's difficult to leave some time to practice bunker shots...let alone find a sand trap to practice on...let alone find a fairway bunker to practice on!

That being said, you should be fully prepared to make the best of your fairway or long-distance bunker shots. Reason being that fairway bunker shots should definitely not be approached the same way as a bunker shot from around the green.

When you are around the green, you are most likely trying to loft the ball, and "gently" place it on the green, basically replicating a nice, soft chip shot. In order to do this, you strike the sand behind that ball, so that the sand absorbs some of the impact from the ball and it doesn't go flying out of the bunker. I'm quite sure we've all experienced the opposite, a line drive that skims across the green (by mistake of course!), and it can be quite frustrating. Well when you are taking a shot from a fairway bunker, you want sort of want to replicate this.

The first thing to consider is club selection. Anything from a 4-iron to an 8-iron will work. I would take 20-25% off your normal distance. If you can normally hit a 5 iron 175 I would expect a fairly well hit ball to go 140 or so. Most likely the ball will also have more a line-drive trajectory.

The second, and more important thing to consider, is that you have to strike the ball like you do not want to take a divot. Instead of striking the ground/sand behind the ball, you want to make contact with the ball as cleanly as possible so that the sand does not slow up the clubface. I always play the ball more towards my front foot and choke up very slightly on the club. Another option is a fairway wood, but I think that requires even more precision as it will slow down considerably more than an iron if it drags in the sand.

Of course the first thing you should do is determine whether or not hitting a distance shot out of a fairway bunker is the way to go. If you don't have a good shot, take more of an "around the green" bunker shot type. Hit the ball out 20 or 30 yards to the fairway and give yourself a much batter chance to hit the green.

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