Hitting Golf Shots over Trees

Golf Cheats to Hit Underneath or Over Trees

Sometimes, it happens. You hit a great golf shot only to find that there is a large tree between you and the green. You now have three options.

A: Hit back out into the fairway and scramble to make par

B: Learn to hit the punch shot underneath the tree to get into a better position to score lower

C: Add loft to your club and hit over the top of the tree

If you decided on option B or C, this post is for you! To hit a shot underneath a tree, you have to use a low lofted club and treat the golf swing like a large putt using the shoulders to make the swing. To hit a shot over a tree, you have to open up the clubface and play the ball off of your front foot to generate more loft. Use the golf cheats below to learn exactly how! 

1. Stand Tall

The first step towards hitting a low shot underneath trees is to stand taller when setting up to the golf ball. This helps lengthen your swing and creates a swing arc that is closer to the ground (shallow swing path)

punch shot stand tall

Stand tall over the golf ball and play the ball towards the back of your stance

2. Feet Closer Together and Step Up

The next step is to bring the feet closer together and step closer to the ball.  A more narrow golf stance helps you feel where your weight is distributed throughout the swing. This golf position will feel very similar to a putting stance.

3. Keep the Weight on the Front Side

Your weight needs to stay on your front side during the whole punch shot. We need to do this to keep the low point of our swing over the golf ball. If the weight slides behind the golf ball, it will become difficult to achieve proper contact and can cause the wrists to “flip” at the ball. When the wrists flip, the chances of you hitting behind or on top of the golf ball dramatically increases.

4. Play the Golf Ball off of the Back Foot

Playing the ball more towards the back foot will also help your weight stay over the golf ball and prevent you from trying to flip and time the swing

I went over all of the different golf ball positions in this post here

5. Choose a Low Lofted Club

This may seem obvious, but many beginning golfers don’t use a low enough club loft when hitting the punch shot under trees. I have found that using either the 4 or 5 iron is best to keep the ball low while still achieving distance.

*Try and avoid using hybrids or fairway woods if you are trying to hit a punch shot from the rough as the grass is more likely to grab and change the angle of the clubface causing inconsistencies.

6. Raise the Club Up on the Toe

The next step is to raise the club up more on the toe of the club creating a flat clubface angle. Doing this delofts your club and allows the ball to stay lower to the ground after contact.

Raise the golf club on its toe

The club is raised on the toe to decrease loft

7. Slide the Hands Down the Grip

Keep your golf grip the same and now slide the hands down the golf grip so that your arms are extended. The more extended your arms are, the less likely you will flip your wrists at impact. This swing should almost feel robotic when the arms are locked out in front of you! ????

Check out this great training aidto get rid of any flipping motions during your swing

8. Use the Shoulders

When making the punch golf swing, the shoulders control the movement. It will feel like you are making a big putt as the motions are very similar

9. Take the Club back Half Way

Take the club halfway back during your backswing. Taking the club too far back during the backswing causes the following problems:

  • Weight shifts too far behind the ball
  • It is harder to square up the clubface when coming down at the ball from a higher top position
  • Faster clubhead speed will cause the hands to flip down at the golf ball

By only taking the club back halfway, I have seen my punch shot consistency skyrocket. After all, our only goal when underneath a tree is to get ourselves back into a better position on the hole. There’s no need to try and add extra power

Take the club back halfway

10. Finish with the Arms Away from the Body

The last cheat to hit underneath trees is to keep the arms away from the body after making contact. As I mentioned above, the punch shot motion should feel like a big putt using the shoulders. Both arms should be extended and away from the body after contact to make sure the original clubface angle formed in the set up remained the same.

Finish with the arms away from the body

Use the Punch Shot in Windy Weather

As mentioned in this article, the punch shot is a great option when hitting underneath trees. You can also use the punch shot when you encounter headwind. The lower shot helps the ball stay under the wind generating roll to maintain your distance control. If you want to know more about playing in windy or rainy conditions, you can read my post here

Hitting Over Trees

If you’ve read this far, you should now feel a lot more confident hitting punch shots underneath trees. But what if you want to hit over a tree? If given enough room, it is sometimes more beneficial to hit over a tree rather than underneath. Follow these simple steps to add loft to your club!

1. Open Up Your Clubface

The first step to add more loft to your club is to open up the clubface. To do this, turn the club in your hand and then re-grip. Opening the clubface helps get the ball up into the air at a faster rate.

2. Move the Ball Higher in Your stance

The next step to get the ball up into the air is to play the golf ball off of your front foot. This changes your swing arc to maximize the clubs designed loft.

High Golf Shot

Play the ball off of the front foot and open up the club face

3. Club Up

It is best to use a higher lofted club like a 9 iron, pitching wedge or sand wedge to get the most height. However, because we are opening up the clubface, you should club up 1 club to compensate for the loss of distance. For example, if you normally hit your pitching wedge 100 yards and you have to go over a tree, open up the clubface and use a 9 iron.

4. Open Your Stance

If you have read my article on “Curing your Slice Forever” you know that the clubface angle determines where to golf ball starts out.

  • An open clubface starts the ball off to the right (right handed golfer)
  • A closed clubface starts the ball off to the left (right handed golfer)

So because step 1 says to open up the clubface, we have to open up our stance to start the golf ball at our target. To open up your stance, take your front foot and step back opening up both your hips and feet line.

5. Full Swing

Now that we have our posture and position, we have to use the fundamentals of the full swing to generate enough clubhead speed for the loft of the club to be appropriately utilized. I have a full article on the full swing you can look at here if you are curious.

An open stance also promotes a swing path that moves outside of our target line and then inside of the target line. This out to in swing path helps add loft and get the golf ball up and over obstacles.

Full Swing High Loft

Use a full swing to generate enough power to get the ball into the air

When Else Should You Hit a High Shot

Not only will these tips help you hit shots over trees, but you can also use them to hit over hills or bunkers to land softly onto the green!

Conclusion

The next time there is a tree between you and the green, you now have the tools to put yourself in a better position by hitting underneath or over it!

Steps to hit underneath a tree:

  1. Stand Tall
  2. Feet Closer together
  3. Keep Weight on the front side
  4. Play golf ball off the back foot
  5. Use a low lofted club
  6. Raise the club onto the toe
  7. Slide the hands down the grip
  8. Use the shoulders
  9. Take the club back half way
  10. Keep the arms extended after contact

Steps to hit over a tree:

  1. Open the clubface
  2. Move the ball higher in the stance
  3. Club Up
  4. Open your stance
  5. Full Swing

Using these golf cheats out on the course, and you will be able to avoid those high scores and improve the confidence in your game!

 

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