Your first goal in a fairway bunker is to clear the lip of the bunker and escape cleanly. 

Because you usually will catch the ball toward the bottom of the clubface, the ball will come out lower. You must adjust your club selection accordingly. 

For longer fairway bunker shots, the new hybrid clubs are very good. Their broader soles won’t dig into the sand and cause fat shots that come up well short of your target. Fairway woods with high lofts also are easier to use than long irons. 

Ideally you hit the ball before you hit the sand in a fairway bunker. But with these clubs you can get away with hitting the shot somewhat fat if you open the face and aim slightly left. The club will square up and skid through the sand rather than dig. This is a good way to play a fairway bunker shot when the ball is sitting down in the sand. 

More Tips From Tom 

  • My ball position is normal in a fairway bunker. If the ball has sunk in the sand, I move it back in my stance 
  • Practice long bunker shots from different lies not just perfect lies. If you don’t you’ll always be guessing what to do – and failing often. 
  • Always make sure you have enough loft to clear the lip. Take more loft than you think you need. If you judge you need a 5-iron, go with a 6. 

I dig my feet into the sand and move my hands down on the grip. Then I set my weight on my left foot to hit slightly down on the ball.