Use this fail-proof recovery shot next time you get into trouble

rory miclroy hits punch

This fail-proof method is easier than a traditional punch shot, and needs less practice.

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Everyone loves to practice their stock shots when they go to the range. They make full swings and try to hit the ball dead straight at a target. It feels good when you pull them off, and it makes your confidence skyrocket when you get ready for your next round.

But on the course, stock shots are used far less often than you’d think. During most rounds, you’ll be forced to get creative with your swing to hit shots that aren’t robotic driving range shots.

A prime example? The punch shot. Everyone is going to get into a situation eventually where they need to keep the ball low so they can get out of trouble. Being in the woods — literally and figuratively — is inevitable if you play golf enough.

While everyone gets into these sticky situations though, lots of players have no idea how to execute a proper punch shot. There’s common wisdom that says play the ball back in your stance and make an abbreviated swing, but few people practice this shot on the range and even fewer can pull it off effectively on the course. The margin for error on these shots is slim and far too often players end up still in trouble after hitting the punch shot.

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By: Zephyr Melton

Count me as one of those who has little confidence in hitting an effective punch shot. I’m not a professional golfer, or a coach. I’m just a regular golfer, like you. Last year, I decided I wasn’t going to hit the traditional punch shot any more. Instead, I started hitting a far less difficult and higher percentage recovery shot.

It really helped me, and it could help you in the most troublesome situations, too.

Why I use a hybrid to punch-out

While a punch shot is usually hit with a long iron, this simple recovery shot is executed with a hybrid or fairway wood. Once you’ve selected your club, all you need to do is take a small half swing — think of it like a long putting stroke — to punch the ball out to safety.

If you hit the shot correctly, it should have enough steam to get out of the trees and low enough height to avoid all the branches. Plus, even if you mishit the shot, the penalty is far less severe as hybrids and fairway woods are quite forgiving.

Next time you hit it into the trees and need a failsafe recovery shot, try this technique with a hybrid or a wood. It’s easier than a traditional punch shot, and it requires far less practice.  

For more help with your game, get fit for clubs by the experts at our affiliate company, True Spec Golf.


Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at