Hit Under Branches

Hit Under Branches

A running punch shot.
Bob Atkins

What it is: A running punch shot

What it’s for: Keeping your ball below low-hanging branches

When a tree branch is hanging between your ball and the green, hitting the ball under it requires some adjustments. But the payoff is big: If the ball is sitting clean, a low-flying runner just might scoot all the way to the green.

The Play
To keep the ball low and chase it down the fairway, you need to control the three things that make it go up: loft, clubhead speed and backspin. Typically you hit down on irons. In this case, you want to flatten out the bottom of your swing.

1. Use a 5-iron and position the ball two inches back from the middle of your stance. This will tilt the club’s shaft forward and de-loft the face.

2. Make a three-quarter-length backswing for better control.

3. At impact, don’t let your right forearm rotate over your left. Think of this shot as a really long chip and finish with the clubhead below the level of your hands. It might help to squeeze the club a little tighter with your left side so your right forearm can’t turn over.< 4. The low knuckleball produced should run well down the fairway after landing so, when possible, aim away from any bunkers short of the green. If bunker play is a weakness, plan to hit short of them.

The Drill

To get a feel for the ideal punch-shot swing, stand your golf bag up about five feet in front of your hitting area at the range and try to hit shots through the legs and under the bag using a 5-iron. Start with short chips and work your way up to longer shots. After about 10 minutes, repeat the drill using other clubs. With practice, you’ll get a feel for how far you can make each club run. If you hit the bag, you’ve produced too much backspin. To fix that, swing slower to keep the ball low.

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