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Cantankerish

Hitting Out of Fairway Bunkers

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Hey all.  I have limited experience with this particular aspect of the game.  I have plenty of experience hitting a sand wedge out of a greenside bunker, but  the fairway bunker strikes me as a different animal. When my tee shot finds a bunker on a par 5, for example, I have been attempting to hit like my 3 or 5 hybrid out.  But this has not gone well - ever.  I figure you have to pick it clean to get good contact.  But I always seem to shank it hard to the right.  Actually, I bet it is the norm to send it right.

How do you deal with a fairway bunker?  Do you go for it like a pro or are you smart enough to just accept your wasted stroke and pitch it out?  How can one practice this?  (My range has a bunker but its at the chipping green.) I am looking for any information about this shot, really.  Anecdotes, advice, physical explanations of what is different about hitting from sand.  Whatever.  And why the heck am I sending the ball so far right?

 

Thanks in advance.

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11 minutes ago, Cantankerish said:

Hey all.  I have limited experience with this particular aspect of the game.  I have plenty of experience hitting a sand wedge out of a greenside bunker, but  the fairway bunker strikes me as a different animal. When my tee shot finds a bunker on a par 5, for example, I have been attempting to hit like my 3 or 5 hybrid out.  But this has not gone well - ever.  I figure you have to pick it clean to get good contact.  But I always seem to shank it hard to the right.  Actually, I bet it is the norm to send it right.

How do you deal with a fairway bunker?  Do you go for it like a pro or are you smart enough to just accept your wasted stroke and pitch it out?  How can one practice this?  (My range has a bunker but its at the chipping green.) I am looking for any information about this shot, really.  Anecdotes, advice, physical explanations of what is different about hitting from sand.  Whatever.  And why the heck am I sending the ball so far right?

 

Thanks in advance.

Assuming no lip issues, I just put the ball back in my stance an inch or two and really try and hit down on it.  It's the same thing I do if my ball happens to be in a divot hole, or a muddy lie ... any situation where too much ground too soon is gonna really screw the shot up I focus on only hitting ball.

If there are lip issues, then it's still the same shot, but you have to choose the club that you know is going to clear it first.

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I don't pitch out but I hit a lot of 50-yard chunks. I don't really have anywhere to practice it. 

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3 hours ago, jamo said:

I don't pitch out but I hit a lot of 50-yard chunks. I don't really have anywhere to practice it. 

This is a good reason (not all times, of course, if there is a big carry) why there’s no reason to “pitch out” because even if I don’t hit it crisply, I still hit it and it goes 30-60 yards in the right direction.

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Take an extra club and make a 3/4 swing.

I also like to think about the feeling of picking the ball rather than going down after it, which to me means I try to keep my head from dropping vertically as much as possible.

Edited by jshots

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5 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

Assuming no lip issues, I just put the ball back in my stance an inch or two and really try and hit down on it.  It's the same thing I do if my ball happens to be in a divot hole, or a muddy lie ... any situation where too much ground too soon is gonna really screw the shot up I focus on only hitting ball.

If there are lip issues, then it's still the same shot, but you have to choose the club that you know is going to clear it first.

Don’t disagree with 99% of what he said, but to me, the ticket is to look at the front of the ball when swinging. It’s not as easy as it seems because we are so accustomed to looking at the back of the ball.

whether you have sand or not, you can practice that shot.

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27 minutes ago, LMoore said:

but to me, the ticket is to look at the front of the ball when swinging.

I can see that working for you and maybe others. But that’s more of a ‘feel’ thing whereas @Golfing Dad suggests something anyone can try and there’s no ‘feel’ to it really. I’m not sure I said that clearly but I hope you get what I mean..lol.

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The key for me is an absolutely quiet lower body.  I use more club, grip down a bit, move the ball back a couple of inches and make a compact, armsy swing.  As others have said, even a heavy miss will go 60+ yards, so the only time I pitch out is if the lie or lip requires it.

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Aside from making choking down on the club and moving my weight little forward at address, i really don't do much differently in a fairway bunker than i would on any other normal full swing shot.  Im just as aggressive through the ball as i normally would be. Depending on the firmness of the sand, you often get better lies in fairway bunkers that you would in the fairway. 

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Thanks guys.  This is a lot more information than I have ever had on this topic.  Remaining question though, anyone know why my shots are always running left?  Is the sand gripping and turning my club?

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5 minutes ago, Cantankerish said:

Thanks guys.  This is a lot more information than I have ever had on this topic.  Remaining question though, anyone know why my shots are always running left?  Is the sand gripping and turning my club?

Pull or hook?

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Several key pieces here, putting it all together:

  • Play ball slightly back from normal
  • Choke down on club
  • Dig feet in for stability and to offset choking down
  • Make sure you have enough loft to clear the lip
  • Take extra club with a 3/4 swing.  It helps me to take a slow backswing

Going left - could be many things but my first guess is probably some sort of over the top move that is resulting in a pull from not taking a full back swing

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Don't get greedy.

If you play it back in stance, it's likely going to launch lower - watch the lip.

If you bury your feet, your swing will bottom out in the sand earlier than normal - watch hitting it heavy, although it'll at least come out.

Biggest killer? IMO, hitting too hard causing feet movement in sand. Easily done and a disaster.

If green in range and it appears sensible (i.e. you'll have enough loft with chosen club to get out while going at it), take at least one club more and swing easy. Try to keep lower body quite/quieter than normal.

If in doubt, pitch out, take medicine and challenge yourself to get up and down.

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1 hour ago, Cantankerish said:

Darn.  I meant pulling right - slicing

There are obviously meaning things that could cause this, but I sometimes find myself dipping the right shoulder in an attempt to help the ball into the air.  The dipping of shoulder causes the club face to open.  One man's issue, yours could be way different.

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Thanks all.  If all goes well I will not be trying this out on Sunday.  But now I am armed in case I do.

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If the ball is sitting nicely on the surface of the sand,

Take out one more club and make sure the club you choose has enough loft to clear the lip of the bunker. Take a slightly wider stance, ball in center. Keep the lower body quiet and make as full an upper body turn as you comfortably can. Contact the ball by just nipping it off the surface. Do not dig into the sand before or after.

If the ball is down in the sand, or the lie is awkward, forget the green and take the shortest route to the fairway.

 

 

 

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