Playing out of a fairway bunker is considerably different from hitting a greenside bunker shot, mainly because you must hit the ball before the sand to escape the fairway version.
A lengthy bunker shot requires a longer swing, too, which makes it difficult to keep your balance given the sand’s tendency to shift.
Therefore, it’s important to keep the lower body as “quiet,” or still, as possible on a fairway bunker shot. An active lower body, with a lot of movement in the feet, knees and hips, may cause you to slip or slide out of position, all but guaranteeing poor contact.
To prevent excessive lower-body motion, follow these tips:
- Take at least one club more than you’d hit from the same yardage in the fairway (i.e. a 7-iron instead of an 8), and grip down a little.
- Assume a slightly wider stance than usual, with plenty of knee flex.
- Dig the feet into the sand a half-inch or so. Don’t go too deep, though, or you’ll change the plane of your swing.
- Swing smoothly at 80 percent power, keeping the lower body still (but not stiff).
- Hold your position on the follow-through; this thought will help you make a steady, balanced swing.