Stuck under a tree? Use these steps to escape trouble and save strokes
I hate admitting this right now, but one thing that I’ve sort of mastered this summer is hitting a low punch shot from beneath some trees.
Obviously, having any shot with a tree obstructing you is a bad look. But, sadly, as I’ve continued to battle inconsistencies hitting my driver, I’ve found myself in this situation more than I’d prefer.
The good news? I know exactly what club and swing to use to escape with a decent shot. The bad news? No matter how good you get at punching out, you’d still prefer not to have to. That’s why I continue to play bogey golf.
Many amateurs can probably relate to this very situation out on the golf course. To help understand exactly how to approach escaping the trees without hitting a branch or trunk, GOLF Top 100 Teacher Lou Guzzi shares his five must-know tips.
Follow these 5 steps to hit a perfect shot underneath trees
1. Find your window
According to Guzzi, the first thing a player must do to escape the trees without finding more trouble is determining a safe window to hit through.
This can be tough for plenty of players, especially amateurs, because the safest shot is sometimes the one with the shortest distance — and nobody just wants to give away a stroke out there.
So analyze where that window is, and then determine the play that you’re most comfortable with.
2. Determine the distance
OK, so you’ve determined that you can be aggressive through the trees without doing more harm. Now you just need to figure out the distance you need to hit it in order to try and save par.
Can you realistically reach the green? Are there other obstacles like bunkers or water in your way? If so, how can you navigate this shot to put yourself in the best position to limit damage?
3. Choose a lower-lofted club
Your main goal is to keep the ball low. Even if you hit a little dribbler that does nothing but roll 100 yards (and looks ugly to the naked eye), that’s a much better shot than skying it into the air and watching your ball deflect further into danger.
Guzzi suggests using a 5-iron, which provides lower loft, but still enough club to get some distance if you can.
4. Remember your ball position
To maintain as much control as possible, Guzzi says your ball position should stay in the middle of your stance. By doing this, you’ll help avoid having the ball come off the clubface with too much loft — thus helping the shot stay low and through the window you chose as a target.
5. Use a shorter backswing and follow through
You want to match your backswing with your follow through, making sure it stays short and compact — with a half-swing the preferred swing size.
Since the size of the backswing will determine your swing speed, by matching these two elements up with one another, you’ll be able to hit the low, running shot you’re looking for, getting you back into safety for a better opportunity into the green.
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