My Golf Instructor

Fairway Bunkers

Fairway Bunkers are dips or depressions in the ground that are filled with sand and sit in or alongside the fairway of a golf hole as opposed to being around the green. They typically require a full shot to the green and can be hit with a variety of clubs. All bunkers are considered hazards and therefor a player cannot ground their club or touch the sand without incurring a 2 stroke penalty.

Fairway Bunkers Drills

Fairway Bunkers Tips

(Click on Title or Image to View Larger Photos)

  • Shorten Your Swing In Fairway Bunkers

    A 3/4 length swing is often best for most players out of a fairway bunker. This affords a good amount of control while allowing the player to stay long enough to accelerate. Swinging too long often allows swing faults to break through and it is more likely that you will have inconsistent contact.

  • Keep Left When in the Sand

    For all bunker shots keep your weight on your front foot. When you back up or fall backwards during the swing you will bottom out too soon and get your club head stuck in the sand. Do this in moderation though, because the more you lean forward, the more you will dig and that will cause the ball may come out shorter. Just remember you don't want all your weight on your back foot at impact.

  • Strike Close for More Spin

    For sand shots, to control the distance of your shot and the spin on the ball, you can alter how close to the ball you enter the sand. The closer you hit to the ball and the less sand you take, the more spin you will get and the further the ball will fly. The more sand you take and the further you hit behind the ball, the less the ball will fly and the more the ball will release on the green.

  • Play the Ball Forward

    When hitting out of the sand play the ball forward of the center of your stance to catch it on the up swing. Catching the ball on the up swing results in a shallower angle of attack which will help prevent digging. If you play it back and catch it too much on the downswing you will actually push the ball down into the sand. This holds true for both greenside and fairway bunker shots.

  • Stay Aggressive on Bunker Shots

    When hitting sand shots be sure to stay aggressive and swing hard. Remember, as long as you hit sand, the shot will come out short so you won't over shoot the green. Decelerating is a killer in the sand. It results in chunky shots that don't leave the bunker or skulled shots that fly over the green. Make sure you accelerate all the way to a finish that is at least as high as your shoulders.

  • Dig in Only For Stability

    When you are in a bunker it is important to dig in for stability as you want a strong, stable lower body. Be careful not to dig in too much or you will hit too deep into the sand and the shot will come up short. Choke down on the club approximately the same amount that you dig in to help prevent fat shots.

  • Use Your Normal Club From Fairway Bunkers

    When you are in a fairway bunker, use the club that you would normally use for the distance facing you. If however you have a high lip or mound to shoot over, you may need to sacrifice distance so that you have enough loft to clear everything. If you have struggled here in the past and often come up short take one more club and choke down a bit until you gain confidence.

  • Open Your Face to Prevent Digging

    When your ball lands in a greenside bunker, open your club face to use the bounce on the bottom of the club. The bounce is the back edge of the club. When you use the bounce it will prevent digging and help you skid through the sand. If you enter the sand with the leading edge of the club head it will dig and cause your club to get stuck in the sand. The result is a ball that doesn't come out of the sand or comes out short with little backspin.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
- More about Maria
- Golf Questions
Golf instruction made simple
Golf Overview
Overall Game
- Getting Started
- Equipment
- Golf Fitness
- Junior Golf
- Mental Game
- Practice
- Rules of Golf
Short Game
- Bunkers
- Chipping
- Pitching
- Putting
Full Swing
- Pre-Swing Fundamentals
- Shot Making
- Diagnosing Problems
- Driving
- Hybrids and Woods
- Irons
Playing Golf
Ball Striking
- Fitness (78)
- Course Management (82)
- Getting Started in Golf (75)
- Practice (66)
Course Management
- Club Selection (66)
- Equipment (107)
- Driving (68)
- Putting (127)
- Golf Rules (69)
Short Game
- Bump and Run (72)
- Chipping (82)
Ball Striking
- Chunking (79)
- Distance Control (86)
- Fat Shots (92)
- Flipping (48)
- Poor Accuracy (118)
- Slicing (48)
- Thin Shots (85)
- Topped Shots (52)
- Lack of Distance (108)
- Putting Accuracy (72)
Swing Plane
- Blocking (50)
- Inside Out (56)
- Outside In (59)
- Over the Top (49)
- Pulling (54)
- Pushing (66)
- Releasing Early (47)
The Swing
- Grip (65)
- Alignment (55)
- Balance (50)
- Ball Position (80)
- Posture (77)
- Setup (117)
Swing Plane
- Backswing (84)
- Controlling Trajectory (47)
- Divot (48)
- Downswing (67)
- Impact (103)
- On Plane (85)
- Path (84)
- Power (71)
- Shaft Plane (63)
- Swing Plane (112)
- Weight Shift (79)