More times than I like to admit I find myself smack in the middle of the fairway bunkers found on many Thailand golf courses around 220 yards from the white tees. Whether it is at Thai Country Club or the Chiang Mai Highlands, I have much practice from hitting these shots so I thought it would be good to share a few of my tips on the best way to play out of these fairway hazards.
PGA professionals hit long irons out of these bunkers. But you're probably not a PGA professional, and as you know neither am I. Hitting a long iron off grass is hard enough, never mind trying to hit one out of a soft Thailand sand bunker. Most Thailand golf travelers can do better hitting a 5-wood, but I have to make some minor adjustments to do it effectively.
Here are my five keys to hitting a great Thailand fairway bunker shot:
1. Dig your feet into the sand to get a firm stance
2. Play the ball back one inch from center
3. Choke down one half inch on the shaft
4. Make ball first contact.
5. Swing slightly softer than normal
To hit a 5-wood out of a bunker, you must hit the ball with a descending arc, rather than trying to pick it clean as you might normally do. To do that you need to play the ball back slightly in your stance, maybe an inch or two from the normal ball position and choke down on the shaft of the club. These two adjustments will help you make a slightly steeper swing and avoid hitting the sane before the ball.
In addition, dig your toes into the sand, not your heels; this also helps me avoid hitting a fat shot. The most important point is don't over swing. Many Thailand golfers try to crush the ball when hitting a wood. Instead, pick out a target well within reach and go for it. Swing slightly softer then normal and focus on making first ball contact, which will get you out of the bunker and onto the fairway in good shape to hit the next shot.
Next time you need to hit a long fairway bunker shot, try hitting a 5-wood. It is easier to hit than a 3-iron or 4-iron and can be just as effective. You want to get out of the bunker first and foremost and secondly land in good position to hit the next shot.
I golf in Thailand often and use this shot maybe two or tree times each round. The tips have saved me numerous do-over shots in the sand and even facilitated par or worst case bogey each time. Try it yourself on your Thailand golf holiday and you will avoid the worry much when that well struck tee shots finds the unexpected fairway sand trap.