Many senior golfers will reach straight for a lofted wedge when faced with a fairway bunker shot to get the ball out and ‘play safe’.
However, by correctly assessing the situation and adopting the correct technique, senior golfers can utilize their hybrid club as a deadly fairway bunker weapon and not be content with merely getting the ball back in play.
Hybrids can be used from a fairway bunker because they have more weight around the perimeter of the club head when compared to a normal iron. They also have a wide sole which helps lift the ball from poor or sandy lies. Hybrids are also very forgiving when compared to long irons.
When and where
The first thing to assess is how steep the lip of the fairway bunker actually is. If the senior golfer lands in a pot bunker with 6 feet high sides, the likelihood of smashing a hybrid out is relatively low. But most shallow fairway bunkers can be tackled with a hybrid when the lip is about knee high or lower.
To complete a successful bunker shot with a hybrid, the senior golfer will also need the lie to be favourable. Hitting shots from a partly buried lie is extremely difficult with a sand wedge, almost impossible with a hybrid club. Also if the ball is on an uphill lie then more height will be produced at impact. Slopes in a bunker can be used to the senior golfer’s advantage but if the ball sits on a downhill lie, a more lofted club may be needed.
1. Grip the club tightly with the ring and little finger of the left hand (for right handed golfers) to help prevent the club face rolling shut at impact. Hold the club a little further down the grip to avoid hitting the sand before the ball. Unlike a greenside bunker shot, the senior golfer needs to hit the ball first.
2. Take a firm and balanced stance with the feet slightly shuffled into the sand to avoid slipping during the swing.
3. If the lie is good, play the ball from the same position as you would a normal hybrid shot (just forward of centre). For added security, the senior could play the ball further back in the stance but take into account the lower ball flight which will be produced.
4. Swing the club away from the ball ‘long and low’; you don’t want to get too steep on this shot.
5. Sweep through and nip the ball from the surface. Picking the ball clean off the sand is important as any sand caught between the club and ball will dramatically reduce distance. This is different from a greenside bunker shot where you need to enter the sand before the ball.
If you strike the ball cleanly, the hybrid’s sole will skim off the surface and lift the ball skyward. The ball will come out with more backspin than usual and therefore travel less distance.
This needs to be taken into account when selecting where the senior golfer wants the ball to finish.