Amen Corner: A Solution to Fairway Bunkers
The first priority for clearing a fairway bunker is being to sure to have enough loft in the chosen club to get over the lip of the trap.
How do you hit from a fairway bunker?
Watching a ball go into a fairway bunker is like staring at a sink full of dirty dishes. You have no choice but to clean them, and you’re not going to enjoy a single minute doing so.
So how do we hit a clean fairway bunker shot? We’re supposed to pick the ball or hit it slightly thin and definitely not hit the sand first because, if we do, the ball won’t get out or will fly nowhere.
The first order of business in a fairway bunker is to analyze the lie and determine which club will guarantee you’ll launch the ball high enough to clear the lip or face of the bunker. Make sure you get the blasted ball out first and foremost.
If you’ve selected a club that will clear the face and you feel you can hit the green with a solid shot, then you’ll need good technique. The most common approach to a fairway bunker is to dig your feet into the sand so you have stability in your stance, grip down on the club to take account for digging in and place the ball just a bit back from your normal position.
While your swing is in motion, it’s important to feel tall and stay tall throughout the swing. Imagine something above your head and feel as if your head is touching it, especially on the way down. Excessive movement up and down, especially on the downswing, will likely cause you to hit the sand, first resulting in a mis-hit shot.
I also find it helpful to try to reduce the amount of lower-body movement and leg drive and feel more of an arm swing. Too much leg drive can cause your feet and body to move too much in the sand, making it more difficult to catch the ball clean.
Imagine you’re standing on something slippery and you’re trying to keep your legs as still as possible. It’s still important to finish in balance on your lead side and not hang back. So much to remember, I know.
By limiting your movements, you can’t expect to hit the ball as far as when off the turf, so take an extra club or even two if it still gives you room to clear the face of the bunker.
There you have it: some clean advice for the fairway bunker. Now, time to do the dishes.
Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon.