If you have ever played a round of golf, you will have seen your ball land in a fairway bunker. From beginners to the top players on the PGA Tour, every player will find the sand at some point in their golfing career.
While landing in a fairway bunker is not the end of the world, there are times when it can be very difficult to escape. Some fairways bunkers can be very deep and this is where the problems can start.
Perhaps the trickiest fairway bunker shot is when the sand is deep and you have something in-front of you to clear, such as some bushes or thick rough.
A common mistake when stepping into a deep fairway bunker is to start by selecting the club you are going to use. This is a mistake and the first thing you should do is check the lie of the ball.
If you can only see between and half and three-quarters of the ball, you must forget about trying to reach the green or playing an attacking shot. The top professional players would not be able to reach the green from a fairway bunker if the ball is 50% buried in the sand.
However, if the ball is sitting up on the sand this gives you a little more to play with and the first thing you must do is check what you have directly in-front of you. If the lip of the bunker is such that you believe you can clear both it and what lies immediately after it with an 8 iron, then to give yourself the best opportunity to clear the lip and what lies beyond it, choose a 9 iron.
To play the shot, you are aiming to sweep the ball out of the deep bunker. Therefore, you do not want a steep descent on the down swing and you must keep your legs in position by taking a solid stance, shoulder width apart.
If your ball is buried in a deep fairway bunker, your options become limited.
You are not going to generate any distance on this shot and you should be aiming to get your ball out of the sand and onto the fairway, leaving yourself a good lie for your next shot.
To do this, you may find yourself aiming away from the green but that’s fine, all you are looking to do is get the ball back in play. You will want to use a wedge for this shot and chop at the sand as hard as you can.
Do not worry about the ball flying out of the bunker at 100 miles per hour and across the fairway into trouble on the other side. The sand is deep and the ball is buried within it. Your club must penetrate the sand to force the ball up and out.
Do not hold back on this shot, set the ball just ahead of centre in your stance and aim for a spot an inch in-front of the ball. Try to generate as much power as you can and get your ball out of the deep bunker and back onto the fairway.