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Be aggressive in a fairway bunker

May 2012

FIND FIRM FOOTING.
Go ahead and dig your feet into the sand. Make sure you're swinging from a stable base, otherwise it will be tough to hit it solid.

THINK LONG.
Be sure the club you're using can hit the ball high enough to clear the lip. Assuming it will, take one more club than normal. So if you usually hit your 7-iron 150 yards, go with a 6-iron. The stronger loft will help get the ball to your target even if your contact isn't perfect. It also will let you make a smoother swing so you can maintain your balance. And if the ball does fly long? You'll likely be better off, as it's often a safe spot to miss.

NO HOLDING BACK.
I don't mean take unnecessary risks. To me, being aggressive means taking more club than normal and making a full swing. Swinging in the sand makes a lot of amateurs tentative. They're so focused on making contact with the ball that they don't make an aggressive move through the ball. They make a very armsy motion, and the ball doesn't go anywhere. Don't be afraid to swing the club.

HIT THE BALL FIRST.
Unlike a greenside bunker shot, you don't want to hit behind the ball. You want to clip it cleanly. Playing the ball farther back in your stance (at least toward the center) will help. I've heard some teachers say to keep the lower body fairly still. But I think you have to have some lower-body movement to make anything close to a normal swing. A better thought would be to maintain your address posture. And don't forget to grip down on your club slightly to compensate for digging in with your feet.

STRICKER was fifth on the PGA Tour in 2011 in greens in regulation from a fairway bunker (61 percent). He has won 12 times on the PGA Tour.

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