Ball position in fairway bunkers

Gary Alliss describes some fundementals that will help you make solid contact out of fairway bunkers every time.


Golf Monthly Top 25 coach Gary Alliss talks about the right ball position in fairway bunkers and offers some simple tips that will help you escape every time.

Ball position in fairway bunkers

Just because you have found a fairway bunker off the tee doesn’t mean you have to give up on your aim of reaching the green in two.

Here I’ve found my ball in a trap with quite a steep lip and I have around 170 yards to the flag. I can still get there with my 4-iron but I’ll need to make some simple adjustments to get some quick height on the shot.

Dig your feet into the sand a little bit like you would do in a greenside bunker. This will help set a solid base for you to swing around.

Move the ball forward in your stance, about a ball’s width inside your left heel – this will help create a shallow angle of attack that delivers a high initial flight.

Now move your hands down the grip by about an inch – you do this because you’re looking to catch the shot almost a fraction thin (striking the ball without taking any sand). This will also help compensate for having dig your feet into the sand.

From there just make your normal swing, focusing on striking the ball first. If you can make these adjustments, there’s no reason to fear fairway bunkers.

Don’t forget

Keep your sternum over the ball through impact - this is your 'cover the ball' golf swing. Avoid leaning back to add height to the shot as you risk catching the sand before the ball.

If you're ever in doubt about clearing a high lip, always play it safe and take one less club. Being 10 yards short of the green is always better than not getting out of the bunker.

Read more top golf swing tips

If the lip is not a problem, take one extra club than you normally would do from the same yardage off grass. The ball never travels quite as far out of sand.

Shot on location at Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Turkey by Paul Severn

Thomas Patrick Clarke
Sports Digital Editor

Tom Clarke joined Golf Monthly as a sub editor in 2009 being promoted to content editor in 2012 and then senior content editor in 2014, before becoming Sports Digital Editor for the Sport Vertical within Future in 2022. Tom currently looks after all the digital products that Golf Monthly produce including Strategy and Content Planning for the website and social media - Tom also assists the Cycling, Football, Rugby and Marine titles at Future. Tom plays off 16 and lists Augusta National (name drop), Old Head and Le Touessrok as the favourite courses he has played. Tom is an avid viewer of all golf content with a particularly in depth knowledge of the pro tour.