How to Play Fairway Bunker Shots

Fairway bunker shots are different than those played in close proximity to the green. They are actually played in the same fashion as the rest of the shots in the game: ball first, ground second.

Play fairway bunker shots in the same manner in which you would play a shot from the fairway with a few subtle adjustments. Two checkpoints to determine: First, do you have a lie that allows for the clubface to get cleanly onto the back of the ball? Second, do you have enough loft on the clubface to get up and over the lip in front of you? If the answer to each of these questions is yes, go ahead and swing away as you normally would. If not, the shot must be played in the same fashion that you would play the above mentioned greenside bunker shot: with a lofted club and impacting the sand before the ball. Do not be greedy when you have either a poor lie or a high lip in a fairway bunker. Take your punishment and move on.


Once you have met the above criteria, key on these few simple points to play successful fairway bunker shots:

  • Favor a ball position that is centered and grip down slightly, regardless of what club you have selected. It is far better to strike the ball first than sand first.

  • Shuffle your feet in lightly. Keep in mind that for every inch you descend into the sand the ball elevates, thus increasing the potential to hit a ‘fat’ shot.
  • Keep your lower body very quiet and work towards maintaining your elevation throughout the swing – any change in altitude could lead to a mishit - stay level.

  • When it comes to club selection make sure you allow for ample clearance over the lip in front of you (get it out) and plan on your shot travelling a half club shorter (due to gripping down) than what it normally does.

Hopefully this information will help you overcome a case of the fairway bunker blues!

View the video lesson here:

Additonal information for better fairway bunker shots: