How to Hit a Fairway Bunker Shot

Playing a shot out of the fairway bunker can be intimidating, however, learning the essential mechanics can help you escape the hazard with ease.

Sand presents a series of challenges that makes executing the perfect bunker shot difficult – the unsure footing, the lie your ball has found in the sand and the precision required to make clean contact. While there are many elements to consider, focusing on the stance and swing can simplify your approach and enable a greater chance for success.

Follow these Pro Tips for a simple bunker escape.


Proper setup lays the foundation for effectively executing the bunker shot. Keep in mind that grounding your club in the bunker prior to taking your shot results in the assessment of a penalty stroke, so hover the club over the surface until you make impact with the ball.

Follow these three steps when approaching your ball in the bunker:

  • Position your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and gently dig your feet into the sand. This can stabilize your stance and encourage you to take sand behind the ball.
  • Place the ball slightly forward of center in your stance. This can allow you to hit the ball on your upswing and lift the shot out of the sand.
  • Slightly open your club face when you’re over the ball and pick a spot about 1 ½ to 2 inches behind the ball. This is where your club will enter the sand.

These tweaks to your normal setup can help you accommodate the difficulties that come with hitting out of sand. Once you’ve achieved the proper setup, you’re one step closer to easily escaping the bunker.


Now that the foundation has been set, take your standard swing through the ball, making sure to maintain speed from the backswing to the follow-through. Slightly digging into the sand before impact can allow you to hit the ball off the center of the club face, which can launch the shot higher and enable optimal performance.

Practice is an essential part of building comfort from fairway bunkers. Finding the stance and swing that helps you achieve your desired outcome can result in a relaxed, controlled stroke when you find yourself in the sand on the course.

Looking for more bunker shot tips? Learn how to perform a downhill bunker shot, too.