Column: Talking trouble shots

Every golfer gets into trouble. In this week's column, Jennifer Greggain provides tips for getting out of it.

Jennifer Greggain played professionally for 10 years, including two on the LPGA. She was  named the 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Tour Low Teaching Pro of the Year, and is the lead instructor of the Sardis Golf Academy. Reach her by phone at 604-798-9805, or email


The first PGA tour event I ever attended as a spectator was the 1998 PGA Championship.

I was expecting to see perfectly executed shots with lots of fairways hit.

I was surprised to learn that PGA players only hit an average of 61 per cent of fairways.

However, what separates touring pros from amateurs is their ability to get out of trouble. Here are three versatility shots that every golfer needs to know.

First, here is a useful shot if you find yourself behind some trees, and need to hit it low beneath some branches.  Select a low-lofted iron, like a four or five iron.

Set up with the ball position closer to your trail leg and ‘press’ your hands well in front of the club head. This set up de-lofts the club, making it easier to keep the ball low.

Now, take a half swing ‘punch’ shot with very little wrist hinge.

You should get a low trajectory golf shot that runs a long way.

On the other hand, to hit a high shot over some trees, you will need to set up differently. Select a higher lofted club that has plenty of room to get over the tree. Then, set up by placing the ball closer to your lead leg in your stance. Tilt your shoulders so your trail shoulder is slightly lower than your lead shoulder.

Make a full swing as normal, cleanly striking the bottom of the ball.

The key is still striking the ball in a downward angle, rather than ‘lifting’ the ball by swinging upward with your wrists.

You should get a high-lofted shot that lands softly on the green.

Finally, let’s say you have hit your drive down the middle of the fairway, but find your ball in a divot. Some of you may have a few choice words to say about your luck. Don’t panic. This shot is much easier to hit than you think.

To hit the ball cleanly out of a divot, you will need to hit down on the ball with a good finish position.

To do this, set up with the ball slightly back from the middle of your stance, and shift your weight slightly to your lead leg. This will allow a steeper angle of approach to the ball, and thus make it easier to get the ball up and onto the green.

In the end, you can never hit any shot in golf tentatively. So the key to any ‘trouble’ shot is to fully commit to the swing, and finish it well. Avoid the tendency to ‘steer’ the ball, and you’ll find it much easier to successfully execute difficult shots.