You probably don’t practise fairway-bunker shots a lot, if ever. And when the ball is close to the lip, the biggest mistake I see amateurs make is trying to change their swing to manufacture a high shot that will clear the lip. My advice? Keep it simple. A fairway bunker is not the place where you want to be shot-shaping. For me, nothing changes in my technique when I’m close to the lip. The only difference is, I choose a club that I know will get me back in play. You have to get that right.
My technique from here is fairly standard. When building a stance in a fairway bunker, it’s crucial to dig your feet in and feel flat-footed. To compensate for the lower position of my feet, I choke down a touch on the grip to help make sure my club hits the ball before it hits the sand.
My main thought in a fairway bunker is to keep my legs as still as possible. I feel like my torso and arms are completely in control of the club, while my legs are simply anchoring me in the sand. And I always play a cut. It’s easier to lose your posture or slip trying to draw it from a bunker.
Another key to success: don’t take a big divot. I want to sweep the ball off the sand, rather than hit down on it. If your downswing is too steep, you’re more likely to hit it fat or drive the ball into the lip. This is a swing that requires your best control.