Missing fairways usually means finding some kind of trouble, usually rough, sand, woods or water. One of the most frustrating trouble spots is a fairway bunker. Learning how to get the ball out will let you avoid needless headaches and wasted strokes.
Start by choosing a club with enough loft to fly the ball over the lip of the trap. Sometimes a high lip will force you to play a club that won't get the ball to the target. In that situation, your priority is to get safely out and back into the fairway.
For short sand shots from greenside bunkers, the usual procedure is to blast the ball out by hitting into the sand behind it. The clubhead never touches the ball but hits the sand, which propels the ball up and out with it.
From a fairway trap, however, the object is distance. You want to hit the ball first, picking it cleanly off the surface. Catching any sand before contact will slow the club, deadening the force of impact and reducing distance: the more sand, the less distance.
To help you pick it clean, play the ball about a ball-width back from where you normally play it and stand a little taller at address. Limit body movement by making a three-quarter, arms-only swing. Quieting the lower body reduces clubhead speed, so take two clubs more than normal.
On the downswing, think about keeping your hands a little higher as you sweep the club through impact to prevent hitting behind the ball. Better to catch it a little thin than a little heavy.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.