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Question on Bunkers:

I have inconsistent iron play with distance and control and also trouble with fairway sand traps. Can you help?
--Michael K. from Carolina Beach, NC

Hi Michael. Thanks for writing

The better help you with your iron play question can you tell me what you mean by inconsistent? Do you mean you spray the ball left or right? Or do you mean you hit it thin and fat?

As far as fairway sand traps go there are some steps you can take to improve. The first step is to choose the right club. What I mean by that is that you want to make sure you will clear the lip if there is one. Often we have to sacrifice distance to get a good shot back out into play. Check the lip and make sure you have a club with enough loft that you will easily clear it.

The next step is to get set up correctly. A BIG mistake a lot of players make is to play the ball back in their stance. This is because that's what they have been told to do to catch the ball first. The problem is when you play it back in your stance you are catching it on the down swing or down arc. When this happens you actually push the ball downward into the sand which of course will stop it from coming out. Make sure to play the ball forward in your stance. The rest of the set up is the same that you would use for that club if you were hitting it off the fairway.

The only other thing I recommend is to keep your weight over your front foot a bit more throughout the swing. The important thing is to prevent yourself from either swaying onto your back foot on the takeaway or falling back onto it through the downswing. When yo hang back your club will bottom out to soon hitting the sand way behind the ball.

The key to fairway bunkers is to just get the ball out. Even if you hit the shot a bit thin you will find you can still get the distance and spin you need, but catching too much sand behind the ball is lethal.

I hope that helps. I always recommend that you start logging your scores in the Game Tracker and practice sessions in the Practice Planner so that I can get a better picture of your total game.

Practice these suggestions on your fairway bunker shots and let me know how it goes!


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