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Hitting Out of a Fairway Bunker

When hitting out of a fairway bunker, making solid contact is a primary goal. In order to do so, you'll need to adjust your set up, swing, or both. To adjust your set up:

  • Dig your lead foot in more than your trail
  • Narrow your stance slightly
  • Put more weight on your front foot
  • Level your shoulders and position your upper body more on top of the golf ball instead of behind it

To adjust your swing:

  • Swing more with your upper body
  • Take care not to drop down in transition
  • Make sure your release has the low point ahead of the golf ball

Tags: Poor Contact, Bunker, Set Up, Impact, Concept, Intermediate, Beginner

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This video is discussing the fairway bunker.

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So how do we adjust our stock swing when we're in a fairway bunker?

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The simple answer is that we need to steepen our path so that we make solid contact.

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We need to make sure we move the low point forward so we make solid contact.

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The two patterns that tend to have the most trouble in the bunker were in the fairway bunkers

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tend to be more of a flip style release or scoop style release where the club

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passes the hands down to the bottom so the bottom of the swing is moving more backward

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because if you hit a little bit behind the ball in the bunker the sand is going to absorb a lot of the speed

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and it's going to come up way flat or a way short.

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The other one, if you don't have the scoop but you still struggle out of fairway bunkers

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is usually from having too much lower body movement.

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Whether that's early extension or thrust or whether that's lateral movement kind of like this.

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If you have too much lower body movement with this unstable surface you're going to tend

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to have trouble controlling your low point.

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So what we're going to do is we're going to go through some setup options we can make

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and some swing options or swing changes we can make in order to adapt for the fairway

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The simplest is to try to make your normal swing with setup changes.

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So I'll go over them but if you try these setup changes and they don't work it usually

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means you've got one of those two swing patterns and you've got to adjust.

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So the common things that we're going to do with setup to ensure solid contact or have

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a little bit steeper angle of the tack and the low point more forward are we're going

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to choke up on the club slightly.

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So if we normally grip you know a half inch from the bottom of the grip we're going to

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choke up maybe an extra half inch.

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So we're going to choke up a little bit.

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We're going to narrow our stance and kind of stay taller.

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When you go down it's a sign that you're really using your legs but for this shot we want

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to have a little bit more of the power coming from our ribcage and arms.

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Almost more like a distance wedge shot than using our legs like we do with the driver.

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And the last thing we're going to do is we're going to dig in our feet but we're going

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to dig them in different amounts.

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With a normal green side bunker shot you dig in both feet to kind of establish a firm

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level footing.

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With a fairway bunker shot what we want to do is just dig in the lead foot or dig in the lead

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foot more than we would the trail foot.

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So if normally let's say I get a little footing with the right foot I'm going to dig in

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a lot more with the left foot by digging in more with the left foot choking up a bit

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getting more tall and leaning a little bit forward so that you're not tilted away from

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the target no access tilt you're much more vertical.

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So now if I'm more vertical choked up lead foot dig in then when I take my swing the bottom

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of my swing is going to be well out in front of the golf ball.

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I'm going to err on hitting it thin as opposed to fat and unless I have a high lip that

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I have to carry I would much rather hit these shots slightly thin than fat or risk

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blading it.

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So making that good set up a little bit taller, a little bit narrower, dug that left

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foot in choked up a bit.

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So it'll come out slightly thin but you can see that I made ball first contact came out

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a little low still went to my intended target.

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So now if I do that I go run through that checklist and I'm still struggling with it or

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let's say I had a higher lip bunker and I can't just make the simple setup changes then

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I'm likely going to have to make more of the swing changes.

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So in order to narrow the or in order to control the low point better to hit shots out of

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the bunker I'm going to try to keep my body a little bit taller.

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I'm going to focus on keeping my sternum up and tall and I'm going to focus on using more

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of my arms as the power source and less of my lower body.

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So I may even air on hitting more of a cut shot or more of a pull shot because I'm going

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to have my path go a little bit more outside in.

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If I get coming from the inside I do run the risk of potentially bottoming out behind

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it especially if I'm trying to get some higher launch where if I come from the outside

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I can have a little bit more loft and not have the fear of hitting quite as far behind

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it is a little bit riskier than just doing my standard shot with the lead foot dug in.

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Here I'm going to dig both feet in but still the lead foot just a hair slightly more.

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I'm still going to choke up but I'm going to not lunge in front of it I'm going to

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stay behind it but stay tall and pick it by controlling the bottom of the swing with a slightly

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more outside in approach kind of like we do in the rough.

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So that will allow me to really control the bottom of swinging kind of nip it but it is

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a little bit riskier than that standard shot where I just dig in the front foot get a little

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bit taller and more on front and really control the bottom of the swing out in front of the

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golf ball.

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If you struggle with fairway bunker shots by working on your overall release pattern,

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by working on a little bit more centered pivot you'll usually have enough progress to

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wear when you face these fairway bunker shots they won't present you with as big of a

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So if you're trying to decide where to spend more of your time I wouldn't advocate

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using a lot of your practice time on fairway bunker shots maybe once or twice a month

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because your general iron practice should have a big carryover to the quality of your

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fairway bunker shots.

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One last little swing thing you want to make sure that you're not swinging too hard unless

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you absolutely have to.

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Again our goal is controlling low point and when you swing hard you're going to tend to use

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your feet more than you need to and when you use your feet a lot you're going to tend

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to air on making poor contact.

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So aim for having more of a consistent tempo and if you need to take one more club as long

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as you have enough loft to carry the lip you should be fine.

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