How to Play Out of a Fairway Bunker
Fairway bunkers tend to be one of the most misunderstood type of lies for most amateurs. When playing with a student I’ll often make sure we throw a ball into a fairway bunker just to make sure the concept is clear and fully understood.
The old stand-by thought when hitting out of a fairway bunker has been to "pick it clean" where a player tries to catch the ball with no sand behind or in front, essentially hitting a thin shot on purpose. If you’ve watched an expert player out of the same lie, however, you’ve seen a noticeable amount of sand get airborne. This is because the ideal type of strike in most fairway bunker situations is similar to striking a ball from the middle of the fairway: ball first contact paired with a downward strike and a club that enters the sand AFTER impact.
There are some easy ways to ensure you strike the ball cleanly and take a “divot” of sand after the ball.
If well understood, hitting a solid shot from the fairway bunker is a fairly easily task. Just remember, choke down, ball back and weight left and you’ll be amazed at how simple it is to strike the ball first when in the sand!