Here are 3 steps to hit bunker shots like the pros

Even pros miss greens from time to time.

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Hey, even world No. 1 misses greens. Luckily, Rory McIlroy knows exactly how to save par from sand, which great players know requires a combo of power and finesse. Speed is needed to move the sand surrounding the ball; loft (the finesse part) is essential for launching the ball softly onto the green.

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If the picture above shows anything, it’s McIlroy meeting these needs to perfection, evidenced by a good amount of sand “exploding” from the bunker and the ball coming out nice, high and soft. 

Some basics Rory uses should help you too. Make sure to play forward in your stance, so your club contacts the sand first. Take an open stance, which will automatically steepen your swing. Finally, flex your knees at setup to lower your hands and get your wrists more involved in the swing. This is, after all, a “hinge,” then “unhinge” motion. 

Here are three tips to save it from the sand like the pros.

1. Tilt 

Rory’s upper body is tilted to the right (i.e., behind the ball). This ensures that his club hits the sand first and not the ball. It also adds extra loft to what’s already built into his wedge.

2. Add speed 

The effort you see in Rory’s expression highlights how powerful he’s swinging. Never “baby” a bunker shot. Also, notice the release in his arms and how much they’re extended.

3. Release 

Rory’s clubhead is above his hands and his left arm is bent in close to his side. These positions are proof of an early release, which will help you scoop the ball.

Joe Plecker is a GOLF Top 100 Teacher and is the director of instruction at The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga.

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