The next time you are out on the golf course and faced with a shot from a fairway bunker consider playing the shot with a hybrid.
The priority of playing out of any bunker is to play a high shot that will clear the bunker face, however playing a high shot that also travels a great distance will prove invaluable from a fairway bunker.
Hybrid golf clubs are a great choice from fairway bunkers as they have a larger club head than irons do and because of this, the centre of gravity within the club head is lower. A lower centre of gravity produces a much higher launch angle for the golf ball to be struck from the club face, which will produce a high shot.
The hybrid club head also has a wider sole than an iron and this design feature allows the club head to glide across the surface that the ball is being struck from, rather than allowing the leading edge, or bottom edge of the club face, to dig into the surface. This allows the hybrid club head to maintain its speed whilst it is being swung towards the golf ball so that all of the club head speed is transferred into the golf ball rather than it being transferred into the ground. This produces shots of much greater distance and from a fairway bunker being able to play shots with height and distance is a massive advantage, making hybrids the ideal choice.
To play an effective shot from a fairway bunker, you need to strike the golf ball cleanly from the sand. To do this, address the golf ball and wriggle your feet gently into the surface to get a firm base to play the shot from. Because you want to strike the ball first and not the sand you need to hold lower down on the handle of the golf club to shorten the distance between yourself and the club head. This will encourage you to swing the club head above and to strike the golf ball first, rather than to strike the sand. Also, hold slightly tighter than usual as this will result in your arm muscles contracting and shortening and the club head will be swung above the sand to strike the golf ball cleanly.
Play the golf ball from the middle of your stance and set up with your weight even between your feet. You want to make a U shaped swinging action with the club head so that the bottom of the club head's swing arc is a shallow movement towards the golf ball that will clip the golf ball cleanly from the sand and setting up in this way will encourage this swing action.
Maintain your spine angle, knee flex and head height throughout the swing. If you drop your head height towards the ground then you will swing the club head into the sand first. This will result in the club head speed being transferred into the ground rather than the golf ball and will reduce the distance that the shot will be struck.
Set up with your feet shoulder width apart, your weight evenly distributed between both feet, the ball in the middle of your feet, maintain your posture and then swing with a good shoulder turn and slightly flat club head so that the club approaches the golf ball on a gentle, shallow angle that allows you to clip the ball cleanly from the sand, transferring maximum club head speed into the golf ball. Work on making a good turn through the shot with your body and ensure that your right foot rotates towards the target and finishes with your sole off the ground with your shoe laces towards the target. The club should finish in a very high position wrapped around and over your left shoulder and you should maintain your balance throughout the swing.
The next time you face a fairway bunker, if the position you find yourself in allows you to take your hybrid, then play this club for a high shot that travels a great distance and gets you right back into scoring well on the hole.