How to attack a shot when you can’t ground your club

Pro golfer Jay Haas hits a shot out of a hazard on the first hole during the final round of the PGA Champions Tour 2018 Invesco QQQ Championship at the Sherwood Country Club on October 28, 2018

Hitting a shot from a hazard or penalty area requires a special technique.

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Hitting a shot from a penalty area is never easy for a number of reasons: the lie is generally poor, the stance is uneven, and the situation is just downright uncomfortable. Compounding the difficulty is the fact that you can’t ground your club.

While many players can hover their driver when hitting a shot off the tee with no problem, hovering an iron from a fairway bunker or penalty area creates a lot of physical awkwardness and uncertainty. And unsurprisingly, a lot of botched shots, too.

I asked GOLF Teacher to Watch Jonathan Buchanan why this tends to be the case, and how to combat the problem, and he provided a useful solution.

“These shots can be hard because, with an iron, we want a descending blow, and we want our attack angle to be down,” he said. “So when you’re hovering the club with an iron, it just doesn’t feel right because you have a leading edge that’s in the air.”

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Think of hovering the club as giving your takeaway a head start, Buchanan says. “The club is already a couple inches off the ground. Use that to your advantage to kick the club up even more, setting up for a more vertical blow at impact to extract the ball.”

The problem with shots like these is that they’re pretty much never practiced — even by professionals. And yet, the way you execute a hovered-club shot can often make or break your round.

In addition to preparing yourself for taking an up-and-down-feeling swing, Buchanan says another useful way to prepare yourself is to simply reframe the challenge in your mind.

“Look forward to it,” Buchanan says. “Prove to yourself that you can do it, and look forward to proving it to your playing partners too.”

For more tips from Jonathan Buchanan, click here.

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