Here’s Exactly How To Hit Fairway Bunker Shots

Are you tired of struggling with those tricky fairway bunker shots? We’ve all spent some time on the beach, but luckily you won’t be there for long anymore.

This article will explain the proper technique for hitting fairway bunker shots, including tips for avoiding common mistakes and maximizing your success on the course. 

We’re going to look at . . .

  • What are fairway bunker shots
  • 5 steps to hitting good fairway bunker shots
  • 3 mistakes to avoid in fairway bunkers
  • Some common questions answered on bunker shots!

Let’s tee off!

fairway bunker shots

What Are Fairway Bunker Shots?

A fairway bunker shot is when your ball lands in a bunker that borders the fairway, and you need to hit it far to reach the green. 

Conversely, you have greenside bunkers, which are located around the collar of the green. These bunkers require a much different technique than what we are about to discuss here when dealing with fairway bunkers. 

Fairway bunker shots can be a little intimidating at first glance, but if you follow this advice, you’ll be well on your way to nailing fairway bunker shots every time. 

how to hit fairway bunker shots

Breaking Down the Proper Technique – 5 Steps

The key to hitting successful fairway bunker shots lies in the proper technique. By following the right steps and making minor adjustments, you’ll be able to get out of the bunker and onto the green with ease. Let’s dive into the technique in greater detail.

1. Check Your Lie

The first step in executing a successful fairway bunker shot is to assess the lie of your ball. Take a quick look at where the ball is resting in the sand and consider the distance to your target, any hazards in the way, and the height of the lip of the bunker.

Once you’ve taken a good look at the lie, you’ll be able to choose the right club for the shot. For beginner golfers, a 7 or 8 iron will typically do the trick, while more experienced players might go for a long iron or even a hybrid.

how to hit fairway bunker shots

2. The Right Club And Grip

When it comes to the club, we suggest choking up one inch on the grip. This will give you more control over the shot and help you avoid any unwanted slicing or hooking.

It also prevents the dreaded chunk shot, which is common amongst amateurs when dealing with fairway bunker shots. 

Additionally, you’ll want to club up to account for the sand, slowing down the club head and making it more challenging to hit the ball unless you’re applying enough force.

You can maintain your normal grip, but make sure to keep your hands relaxed and your grip pressure light. This will give you more control over the club and help you make a smooth, flowing swing.

3. Set-Up And Ball Position

Once you’ve got the right club and grip, it’s time to set up for the shot. Stand slightly closer to the ball than you usually would, and aim to take a minimal divot with your swing. This way, you’ll be able to get the ball up and out of the bunker more easily.

Standing closer promotes a steeper swing, making it easier for you to hit the ball first and avoid sand altogether.

As for the ball position, place the ball slightly back of your usual position for whichever club you’re using, thus allowing you to hit a high, soft shot that will land softly on the green.

how to hit fairway bunker shots

4. The Swing

The most important part of the fairway bunker shot is the swing itself. To execute a successful shot, it’s crucial to stay quiet with your lower body and take a wider stance for stability. This will help you avoid any unnecessary movements that could negatively impact the shot.

When you’re ready to swing, keep your hands ahead of the ball and make a smooth, flowing motion. Focus on hitting down into the sand and taking a minimal divot.

And remember, the goal is to hit the ball with enough force to get it out of the bunker but not so much force that it flies over the green.

In the follow-through, keep your head down and watch the ball as it takes flight. This will help you gauge the quality of your shot and make any necessary adjustments for the next one.

5. Stay Calm And Confident

Last but certainly not least is to stay calm and confident. Remember, you’re not the first golfer to find themselves in a bunker, and you won’t be the last. So take a deep breath, focus on your technique, and trust in your golfer skills.

With practice, patience, and the proper technique, you’ll be well on your way to hitting great fairway bunker shots in no time. So get out there and start practicing!

how to hit fairway bunker shots

3 Mistakes To Avoid In Hitting Fairway Bunker Shots

Avoiding common mistakes is arguably as crucial as executing the fairway bunker shot itself. So let’s look at some common mistakes you can avoid and save time and effort.

1. Going Too Fast

One of the most common mistakes golfers make when hitting a fairway bunker shot is swinging too fast or too hard.

This can cause the club to slide through the sand, resulting in a poor shot. A slower, more controlled swing is vital to getting the ball out of the bunker.

how to hit fairway bunker shots

2. Not Taking Enough Sand

Another mistake golfers often make is not taking any sand when hitting the ball out of the bunker

Instead, make sure to take enough sand with you when making your swing. This can be accomplished by hitting down into the sand at the back of the ball and taking a minimal divot with your club.

The sand you take in your divot should always be after the ball, never before the ball like you would in a greenside bunker.

3. Improper Body Position

Maintaining proper body position is also vital for successful fairway bunker shots. 

Make sure to keep your head down, eyes on the ball, and body in a comfortable position throughout the shot. This will help you maintain balance and control and avoid unwanted movements that could negatively impact the shot.

how to hit fairway bunker shots

Other Aspects To Consider That Can Help Nail The Fairway Bunker Shot

Use A Sand Wedge

Using a sand wedge, when possible, is designed explicitly for bunkers and can make a big difference in your shots. Sand wedges are designed to displace the sand, which is quite helpful in getting the ball onto the green more easily.

Focus On Your Follow-Through

The follow-through is a crucial part of any golf shot, and it’s no different with fairway bunker shots.

Keep your head down, watch the ball as it takes flight, and focus on maintaining your form and balance throughout the follow-through. This will help you get a feel for the shot. 


What’s The Best Way To Avoid Slipping While Hitting A Fairway Bunker Shot?

The best way to avoid slipping while hitting a fairway bunker shot is to maintain proper footing in the sand.

You can achieve this by having a stable stance and taking small steps to create a solid base. Alternatively, digging your feet into the sand a bit can also increase your balance and stability, helping you stay in control during the shot.

how to hit fairway bunker shots

Can A Fairway Bunker Shot Be Practiced On The Range?

No, a fairway bunker shot cannot be practiced on the range unless a specific bunker is made for it. While practicing fairway bunker shots on the range can undoubtedly help with visualization and aim, it will provide a different resistance and feel than hitting the ball out of the sand.

We strongly suggest getting into a bunker and practicing hitting shots from various lie angles and depths to help you build muscle memory and feel for the shot. 

How Can I Tell If I’m Using Too Much Or Too Little Sand For My Fairway Bunker Shot?

The amount of sand you use for a fairway bunker shot is crucial for success. To determine if you’re using too much or too little sand, it’s a matter of experimentation and finding the right balance.

You’ll also want to ensure that you’re taking enough sand in your swing to help the ball out of the bunker. However, also note that it’s not so much that you’re scooping instead of hitting the ball. 

Can A Fairway Bunker Shot Be Hit With Any Club Besides A Sand Wedge?

Yes, a fairway bunker shot can be hit with a club other than a sand wedge. While the sand wedge is the most common club used for this type of shot, technically, any club can be used.

The key is to choose a club with enough loft to get the ball out of the sand based on your lie and position on the hole.

how to hit fairway bunker shots

What Is The Ideal Ball Position For A Fairway Bunker Shot?

The ideal ball position for a fairway bunker shot is positioned slightly back of your usual position. This allows you to make a descending blow into the sand and onto the ball, which is typically more effective for getting the ball out of the bunker.

Remember that this is a general guideline, and factors such as your personal swing and the type of bunker you’re facing may impact where the ball should be positioned for the best results.


Fairway bunker shots can be a challenging aspect of golf, but with the right approach, they can be just as manageable as any other shot on the course. Ultimately, it all comes down to how you execute the shots.

If you can follow and execute the instructions mentioned in this article, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a fairway bunker expert in no time. 

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After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

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