You’ve landed in a fairway trap. Now what?

A fairway trap also know as a fairway bunker doesn’t have to be a killer hole. In fact, it’s often possible to finish the hole with a par. Here’s what to do…

  1. Assess the lie:
    • Determine how the ball is sitting in the sand. A buried lie will require a more aggressive approach, while a more favorable lie allows for a more standard shot.
    • Consider the depth of the sand. Deeper sand may require a more forceful swing.
  2. Select the right club:
    • Choose a club with enough loft to get the ball out of the bunker, but not so much that it risks hitting the lip.
    • Generally, a sand wedge or a gap wedge is a good choice. The sand wedge is designed to perform well in bunkers.
  3. Open your stance:
    • Position your body so that your feet, hips, and shoulders are slightly left of the target (for right-handed golfers) to open up the clubface.
    • This helps create more loft and promotes a higher trajectory.
  4. Open the clubface:
    • Rotate the clubface slightly open at address to increase the effective loft of the club.
    • This helps the club slide through the sand more easily.
  5. Dig your feet in:
    • Unlike hitting from the fairway, you want to dig your feet into the sand slightly for stability.
    • This helps prevent slipping during the swing.
  6. Swing with a steeper angle:
    • Aim to hit the sand a few inches behind the ball. This technique, known as “splash,” allows the sand to lift the ball out of the bunker.
    • Avoid trying to hit the ball cleanly, as you would from the fairway.
  7. Follow through:
    • After impact, continue your swing through the sand. This will help lift the ball and carry it out of the bunker.
    • Avoid decelerating through the ball, as this can lead to a poor strike.
  8. Assess the lie after the shot:
    • Sometimes, the ball may come out with more or less spin, affecting its roll and stopping distance.
    • Be prepared for this when assessing your next shot.
  9. Stay positive:
    • Bunker shots can be challenging, so maintain a positive mindset and focus on executing each step of the shot.
    • Accept that you might not get as close to the hole as you’d like, but aim to get back onto the fairway or closer to the green.
  10. Practice:
    • Fairway bunker shots can be practiced on the driving range or practice area to get more comfortable with the technique.
    • Experiment with different clubs and stances to find what works best for you in different bunker situations.

Remember, practice and experience will help you become more confident and effective when playing from fairway bunkers.