By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academy
Rory McIlroy is one of those players that makes the game look so easy. From his effortless full swing to a confident and great putting stroke, there seems to be no weaknesses in the world’s newest No. 1-ranked golfer. On Sunday, McIlroy showed us all these talents but none perhaps more impressive than his wedge play from around the greens.
McIlroy hit a couple of great bunker shots down the stretch to win The Honda Classic. I like watching professionals hit greenside bunker shots because not only is their technique so good, but their ability to blend their amount of arm swing with their rate of turn with the body to control distance is also very impressive.
Greenside bunker play can be very challenging for so many. Some of the most common errors will see where a player doesn’t allow for enough loft and bounce at address to execute the shot. When this occurs, the club face is usually too square and/or the club shaft is too far forward at address. As a result, the leading edge is too exposed resulting in an impact where the club face digs rather than gliding through the sand. On Sunday, McIlroy showed us how to avoid this situation and execute a textbook greenside bunker shot.
The first step to hitting a greenside bunker shot is to open the club face. Although this is important, you will want to be careful that you don’t open it too much so the effective club face becomes too small. Secondly, you want the club shaft to sit more neutral to slightly back at address. This shaft angle is just critical to so many amateurs as it create an environment to really utilize the bounce of the club during the strike.
Next, you want to make sure your sternum is in-line with the golf ball. A common error here will see the sternum too much behind the ball causing fat and thin shots, to even the dreaded drop-kick. With the sternum more over the ball, it is recommended to add weight to the left foot. These two dynamics create a situation where you can control your point-of-entry into the sand leading to improved distance control.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.