Since it’s inevitable you’ll end up in the woods at some point during your golfing career…
Learning how to hit a low golf punch shot is one of the most important skills to master as a golfer – especially if you’re a higher handicapper.
And playing a high percentage punch shot back on to the fairway…
Instead of opting to ‘just go for it’…
Can make the difference between saving the hole or ruining your entire scorecard.
Table Of Contents
When To Play A Punch Shot
There are two main situations when you’ll want to hit a golf punch shot: getting out of trouble or playing in windy conditions.
For the purposes of this article we’re going to talk about getting out of trouble – specifically in and around trees.
However, if you want to control your distances and hit piercing stinger shots, check out this article.
Controlling The Golf Ball’s Trajectory
Before you can master this score-saving shot, you need to understand the factors which create high ball flights.
The good news is, as there’s only three factors which primarily determine the ball’s trajectory…
Perfecting the punch shot is a lot less complicated than it may seem.
Here are the 3 factors you need to control…
Is the angle at which the ball leaves the ground.
The higher the launch angle, the steeper the flight path.
Increasing the degree of loft at impact increases spin, as does a faster club speed.
And a higher spin rate increases the height of the ball’s apex.
Ball Speed is the speed the ball is traveling immediately after impact and is determined by club speed and impact location.
The more speed the ball has, the longer it will continue to rise in an upward direction.
So now that you know what causes the ball to continually climb in the air, how do you use this information to create a low, punchy ball flight?
Well, if Launch + Spin + Speed = Height…
All you need to do is minimize these three elements as much as possible.
Most of which can be done by simply changing your set up.
Setting Up To Play A Low Punch Shot
The first (and easiest) way to reduce the ball’s trajectory is to simply ‘club up’.
Using a club with less loft will produce a lower ball flight.
Anywhere between a 4 and 7 iron is what we typically recommend using when playing a punch shot.
Yet another simple solution to limit the degree of loft is to move your ball position 1-2 inches back in your stance, so that the ball is just back of center.
By doing this, it encourages you to lean your hands forward at address, de-lofting the club before even starting your takeaway.
And although it doesn’t guarantee you’ll return to the ball in this position, it gives you a much better chance of reducing the dynamic loft at impact.
Grip Down On The Club
So far you’ve set up and reduced two of the three elements which influence the ball’s trajectory – launch angle and spin rate.
Now, let’s restrict the final component influencing the ball’s flight – speed.
And you can do this before starting your backswing by choking down on the club 1-2 inches.
By doing so, you’re shortening your swing arc and reducing your potential club speed. And since speed creates spin, you’re minimizing spin rate at the same time.
How To Hit A Golf Punch Shot Under The Trees
So, you’ve set up properly to de-loft the club, reduce club speed, and limit spin rate, but how do you actually swing the club to get the ball punching underneath those low hanging branches and back on to the fairway?
Well, it’s easy…
There’s only three things you need to focus on:
- Pick Your Window – identify the space where you can knock your ball through, pick your spot, and visualize the ball penetrating through it.
- Slow Down – remember, we want less speed here, not more.
To do so, shorten your swing arc even further by swinging the club only 50% to 75% of your full swing, and really focus on swinging the club smoothly.
Think of it more like a short pitch shot.
- Follow Through Low – Finish the shot with a short follow through, keeping your hands low. This will ensure your hands are in front of the ball at impact, reducing the dynamic loft.
Combining the correct set up with these simple swing thoughts will all but guarantee you get back onto the fairway safely, setting you up for an approach shot to attack the flag and ultimately save your scorecard.
Punching Out Too Often?
If you’re hitting too many wayward shots off the tee, and find yourself in trouble often…
You might want to check out the Easy Tempo Technique training program led by 6 time Major champion Sir Nick Faldo, to help you consistently hit more fairways while adding up to 25 yards to your drives.