*By Roger Schiffman
You want to know why U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy has become a dominant presence in the major championships? It's partly due to his backyard. That's right. His backyard. Check out this BBC video to see what I mean. Then come back and study the five sand keys below.
Not only can Rory replicate the green speed of an upcoming major with the greens on his property, he can practice from various kinds of sand, and from bunkers even deeper than the Road Hole Bunker at St. Andrews. So those ominous-looking bunkers at Royal St. George's this week seem tame for him.
So here's today's tip: How Rory plays an explosion shot over a very steep lip. Here are five keys:
(1) Use your most-lofted wedge, at least a 56-degree and a 58- or 60- if you carry one.
(2) Open the face at address to increase the club's loft even more. Do this by first turning the face to the right, then taking your grip. Don't re-grip the club after that. That maintains the open face throughout the swing and at impact with the sand.
(3) Swing the clubhead only slightly down into the sand, and try to have the club enter the sand just behind the ball. You want a bit of descent, but not
much. A shallower angle of attack maintains the loft of the club and makes the ball go higher.
(4) Use as much clubhead speed on the through-swing as possible. Rory is making a complete backswing to achieve optimum clubhead speed.
(5) Maintain your knee flex and spine angle through the swing--no dipping or pulling up--and make a full finish. Notice how Rory finishes high and in balance.
Good luck with your sand game this weekend, and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.