Pro's Corner

Simple Setup Adjustments

to Strike the Ball Cleanly off the Sand

By John Leach

After analyzing your situation and selecting the proper club, follow these simple setup adjustments to strike the ball cleanly off the sand.

* Choke down about an inch on the club. This will help you control the club during the swing so that you will not dig into the sand before striking the ball. Remember that choking down will also serve to decrease distance-another reason to add a club to fairway bunker shots.

* Widen your stance. The best swing for ensuring that you hit the ball cleanly is one in which the lower body remains stable and "quiet." By widening your stance you restrict the movement of your hips and legs, reducing the chances of the disastrous fat shot. Play the ball in the middle of your stance. This sets you up to strike the ball first.

* Dig into the sand with your left foot only, setting more weight on your left side. This serves to keep yow lower body from moving throughout the swing. Tap down with your right foot to create a solid base, but don't dig into the sand. Should you be faced with an uneven lie, be sure your spine is set perpendicular to the slope of the ground.

* Take a three-quarter swing. Clean contact, not power, is the object when playing from a fairway bunker You have set up to minimize lower body activity, therefore, you should shorten your swing so that you don't force your lower body into motion. A three-quarter swing provides plenty of power. Focus on tempo. The swing should be smooth, relaxed, and controlled and should lead into a well-balanced finish. Visualize sweeping the ball right off of the sand, hardly even skimming the bunker's surface.

* Don't try to be a hero and hit a fairway wood from a bunker unless the sand is very firm. Save a shot and play up in front of the green.

Finally, evaluate your results. Do you tend to fade the ball when playing from fairway bunkers? Maybe you are prone to hitting pulled shots. Allow for those tendencies when playing from fairway bunkers. Knowing your own ability is the most important key to playing good, manageable golf In this respect the fairway bunkers is no different than any other shot.

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