Any golfer will eventually find their ball located among trees on the golf course. Or similarly find a tree in between the ball and the target, with overhanging branches that are blocking what would be the normal ball flight for the required golf club.
While it is sometimes necessary to chip back into the fairway in order to gain access to the green it is not always necessary to take this essentially 1-stroke penalty.
Use this page for tips on how to hit a punch shot that travels close to the full distance while staying low to the ground and clear of the lowest branches blocking your way.
Keep the ball flight low
Don’t let branches throw your golf club off line
Use a Lower Loft Club
In order to keep the ball flight low you will need to use a club that can indeed keep the ball low. There is no sense in trying to keep a golf shot low using a lob wedge because that club was built to send the ball on a very high trajectory over a relatively short distance.
For this low punch shot under tree branches, use a mid-iron at most. We are talking here about a 6-iron or or a 5-iron.
The loft on those clubs will be low enough for the purpose of this shot and you will be able to cover a lot of ground and see the ball bounce and roll quite some distance upon landing.
Put the Ball Back in your Stance
Again keeping in mind our objective to keep the ball low you should change how you normally position the ball in your stance.
Whereas you would normally place the ball slightly ahead of center for a 6-iron we encourage you to position the ball slightly back of center in your stance.
This ball position will de-loft the club and help send the ball on a lower trajectory, while also helping to protect you from fat shots.
Keep Hands Well Forward
In addition to the tip above regarding ball position, remember to keep your hands well forward at address.
Yes, the ball is back in your stance slightly but that doesn’t mean you should put your hands back at address also.
Instead, use the common address hand position trick of pointing the end of the grip of your club towards your left hip. For this shot, you may even consider moving your hands even more forward than usual. Again, that will help in de-lofting the club which will help in keeping the ball flight low.
Grip Down on the Club and Grip Tightly
In order to protect you from hitting the golf ball fat you should grip down on the club. That means positioning your hands lower on the grip of the club than you normally would.
Gripping down on the club will also help in gaining more control over your golf shot. Finally, remember to grip the club tightly.
Keep your Weight Forward
Just before you execute your low punch shot swing make one final setup position adjustment. Rather than keeping your weight split evenly between your two feet try to put more weight on your forward – left – foot.
Doing so will again help to reduce loft in your club but it will also encourage hitting down on the ball.
Trapping the ball should help in punching it forward with some pace and low to the ground.
Keep your Swing Low
Finally, it’s time to make it all happen. You don’t need a full backswing and follow through for this low punch shot to succeed.
Actually, you are better off restricting how far back you go in your backswing and how far back up you bring your release and extension of the club.
This is particularly true if you find yourself among branches. Catching some branches on your way towards impact with the ball can throw your club off-line. It could even make you miss the ball entirely, resulting in a whiff.