Occasionally, on the golf course, you will need to hit a lower shot. Whether you are trying to keep it under the wind, or below the limbs of a tree. This video (below) and short blog explains some simple steps you can take to lower your ball flight successfully.
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How To Hit A Punch Shot
Why Not Just Club Down?
A simple way to hit a lower shot is to drop your club down a number or two. If you’re into a strong wind, dropping from an 8 iron to a 7 iron, or even a 6 iron, is a simple way of getting that ball to come out lower with less backspin.
However, when you do this, you are opening yourself up to more sideways misses, as a lower lofted club can impart more side-spin (or tilt the spin axis more) for any given face-to-path error.
Learning to play a punch shot can give you all the benefits of clubbing down, without the loss in accuracy.
Three set-up Keys
In the set up, playing the ball back in the stance will place the ball in a part of the arc where the loft is lower. As loft at impact is the main factor for launch angle, this will encourage the ball to start lower and stay lower.
Placing a little more weight on the front foot at address (and keeping it there throughout the swing) will also encourage more forward shaft lean at impact – hence less loft.
However, these things also shift the low point farther ahead of the ball. This places the ball on a part of the arc where the club path is more in-to-out (to the right, for a right handed golfer). That can encourage pushes and hooks. So we need to add something else.
As this picture shows, the farther back the ball is in our stance (red part of the arc), the more the club path (black arrow) is from the inside.
However, by simply aligning our shoulders or body lines more to the left (open), we effectively neutralize the path.
And One Swing Thought
If the 3 set up keys is not too much cognitive overload, and you have some mental space for a swing thought, why not try this.
Swing back and down as normal, but feel as if you slam on the brakes post impact. Try to maintain as much speed at impact as possible, but really decelerate the club after impact, stopping the club from going too high in the follow through.
What this thought does is self-organizes a later release and more forward shaft lean at impact.
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Thanks for the never ending flow of great suggestions.
My old coach said to me, to play a punch shot I should turn the last 3 fingers of my lead hand towards my lead wrist through impact. Effectively bowing the wrist to reduce loft etc
What is wrong with just pushing the hands forward to reduce loft?
Nothing. It can work. But with that approach, a player usually returns the club back to a shaft lean that is more similar to their normal pattern. So starting with more shaft lean, in that example, can produce more fat and heel contacts in many players.
I’m not sure I understand the accuracy argument here. Isn’t the punch shot dynamically reducing the loft — essentially creating the same loft that a longer club would have? Once that happens, why would the punch shot not be susceptible to the same amount of side-spin as a longer, less-lofted, club? The ball can’t tell if it is a PW or an 8 iron — it only sees the loft it is presented with. Is there some other factor at play here that I’m not understanding as it relates to accuracy? (the difference in club length would make a difference in ball speed, which would increase dispersion, but that can be remedied by choking down on the grip)
It’s only really a small effect, but it’s a result of spin loft – so the element you were missing was angle of attack.
Say, for example, we are into a very strong wind that would normally be an 8 iron, but now would require a 4 iron. Alternatively, we could punch a 6 iron even lower than a stock 4. The punch 6 would tend to have a much steeper angle of attack.
This article made me think of a shot I had Saturday. I teed off on the 17th hole with a strong pull right into the trees and just off the adjacent fairway. I had two options – punch back through OR try to play along the adjacent hole to where I had a clear shot to the green. I chose the punch shot. I lofted down, waaay down to the 4i. Then used a Slam the Brakes swing to keep it down. The end result – a nice punch shot of about 70yds back into the fairway and excellent setup to get a great approach shot onto the green. Really enjoyed that shot!
I’m not sure it’s been said in this otherwise excellent lesson ,but I use a more compact swing for “punching “in the wind :less back swing ,less follow through (You mentioned restricting the follow thru only )
Thanks for the great write-up Adam (and the illustrations/video). This is a shot that every new golfer needs to learn.
Michael H. Mathew
An instructive video lesson and the pictures are so clarified that given an idea about the shot for beginners..Nice Article..keep going!
I use a punch shot as my go to shot from 70 yards in with a lob wedge or sw. what are the pros and cons of using this shot vs a pitch shot?
Nothing really – perhaps less stopping power, but that would only be relevant if you need it (pin tucked close to front). Test it and see which one performs the best over a number of shots (I do this using launch monitor and then looking at the standard deviation). It may be that you are better at full wedges with a certain distance and punch shots with other distances. This is common