Hi, this is Mel Sole from the Mel Sole Golf School in Pawleys Island, just south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and this is your May 2014 golf tip.
I had a request from a longtime student who’s been a very good supporter of the Golf School for many years, Tommy Steagal from North Carolina, and he wants to know about a punch shot or a knockdown shot and how you play that. What I’ve done here is, as you can see, everybody gets in the trees every now and again, and I’ve got a tree in front of me with some low, overhanging branches, and I need to keep this ball down and get it out onto the fairway or up onto the green, depending on how close I am to the green.
I’ve got a choice here between two clubs: I have my 2 hybrid, which I know is going to keep the ball low, but if the green is too close maybe this is too much club – in which case I might go over and I’ve got a 5 iron where I can play a little knockdown punch shot.
With the 2 hybrid, I would play this shot more towards the middle of my stance and make sure that I keep it down, so a 2 hybrid I would play about there in my stance and I could keep it down. With the 5 iron, I would play a little bit further back in my stance – and for the shot today I’m actually going to use the 5 iron.
The secret to a knockdown shot is twofold: you want to make sure the hands lead the club head coming in. If you get the club head to pass the hands, the ball’s going to go up, you’re going to hit the trees, and the ball’s not going to go very far. So you have to make sure that you move that left side really quickly, clearing your left shoulder and left hip to make sure the hands stay ahead, and then drive that follow through so that you finish just about here. The more you swing up and go through – again, the higher the trajectory is going to be. So, in order to keep this down I’m going to play this knockdown shot and just hold it about there as I go through.
I’m going to go through that little gap. I’m going to move the ball back in my stance, and then I’m going to swing – this is not a full swing so, again, I don’t want to go all the way back.
I’m going to go back to about a little 9 o’clock shot here …
And you can see there’s a nice, low trajectory that ran up the fairway …
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Here’s another view of the same shot, from exactly the same position. You’ll notice I’m playing the ball back in my stance. Even in my setup, I’m making sure my hands are ahead of the club head, and when I swing I want to make sure as I come down that I’m clearing my left side – that’s going to give me, you can see, quite a significant shaft lean. I don’t want to use too straight of a club like a 4 iron or a 3 iron, because I’m not going to get the ball up with the de-lofting of the club. I’m using a 5 iron here, that will give me a pretty decent trajectory.
So I’m playing the ball slightly back in my stance – notice that I’ve actually got a slightly open stance, and I’ve flared this toe open. What that’s going to do is it’s going to help me clear my left side a little bit quicker. With that flare of the toe and the open stance, I’m presetting my hips a little open so it can help me get that clearing of the left side through. That is critical to the success of this shot.
That is a shot saver, and not very many people practice that on the range. You want to sometimes go to the range and practice trouble shots. Practice hitting the ball high over a tree, practice hitting the ball like I’ve just done under the branches. These are shots that are going to save you strokes on the golf course.
If you can extradite yourself out of trouble with one shot, that’s going to be like rolling four shots into two. Try that – I think you’re going to love it!