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Fare better when your ball finds a fairway bunker

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For average and high-handicap golfers, seeing their ball wind up in a bunker creates all sorts of anxiety.

Greenside bunkers can be relatively easy to play from given the proper technique, and a good player would much rather be in a bunker around the green than long, deep rough.

Fairway bunkers, however, can wreak all sorts of damage on your score if you don’t manage those shots properly.

The thing to remember when faced with one of these hazards is that not all sand is created equal.

Your checklist for escaping a fairway bunker is much different from the steps you take when finding a bunker around the green.

We asked SwingFix instructor Ed Oldham, Head Golf Professional at The Ranch Country Club in Westminster, Colo., for his tips on successful fairway bunker play.

Here’s what he had to say:

• First, make sure to pick a club that will get you out of the bunker. Pay attention to how high and how close the lip of the bunker is and make sure to select a club that will get you out for sure.

• Take one extra club, keep your legs a little quiet and make your swing.

• Ensure a firm stance by shuffling your feet. Don't dig too deep as you will lower your body and your swing and increase the chance of hitting the sand first.

• Make two adjustments to help contact the ball first: choke up a half-inch and move the ball back in your stance about half of the width of the ball.

• Make contact with the ball first. Unlike a greenside bunker where you want to hit the sand first, in a fairway bunker hit the ball first, then the sand.

Follow this advice the next time your ball ends up in a fairway bunker and you’ll have more success extracting yourself from that situation.

Take an online lesson with Ed Oldham.