The first time I had the opportunity to watch a PGA Tour event in person, I noticed that every player, at some point, hit a shot or two offline. Finding a not so ideal location, the player was forced to open their tool box of ‘trick shots’ to get them back on track. Here are some trick shots I recommend every golfer have in their bag.
Everyone should know how to hit a low recovery shot from the trees, especially residing in BC where every course has tree-lined fairways.
The key to keeping a low running shot is in the set-up.
Be sure to use a low lofted iron, like a four or five iron. Place the ball further back in the stance, closer to the trail foot. Set your hands well ahead of the club head, which de-lofts the club and keeps the shot-trajectory low.
Make an abbreviated swing, no bigger than half or three quarters, and mirror the size of swing in your follow through. Take a few practice swings with the swing arc bottoming out on the ground. The result is a low lofted ‘punch’ shot that will stay under tree branches and roll out to the target.
When faced with a shot that requires a delicate high lofted trajectory with little roll, make sure you know how to hit a solid ‘flop’ shot.
Choose your highest lofted wedge, and if you plan on using this shot often be sure to invest in a quality lob wedge of at least 60 degrees.
For those who struggle with this shot, I use the analogy of a popular fair game — the water balloon toss.
Imagine tossing the balloon high in the air to your partner, assertively enough to throw it far but delicately enough that it doesn’t break in their hands.
Feel completely relaxed through your hands, and grip the club as softly as you can.
Set up with the ball slightly forward in your stance, and open the club face to add loft.
Allow your wrists to set in the back-swing, and turn through the shot with your body.
The club-head should strike the ground at the bottom of the arc, creating a soft, high trajectory pitch. The swing itself should feel a bit longer and relaxed, yet keeping just the right amount of assertiveness.
Done correctly, this is also one of the most enjoyable shots to pull off, causing a fair amount of grief to your playing partners.
Finally, one more shot everyone should know is the dreaded plugged lie in a greenside bunker.
Again, choose your setup for this shot wisely. Play the ball forward in your stance, but instead of opening your club-face like a normal bunker shot, instead close or hood the face.
Take a somewhat smaller swing with an abbreviated finish position, which will cause the ball to softly pop up and out of the bunker.
Golf isn’t about hitting perfect shots all the time. Its about enjoying hitting a wide range of different types of shots.
Some players view difficult situations as adversity, and others will face it as a challenge.
Which one will you choose?
Jennifer teaches golf to adults and juniors at the Chilliwack Golf Academy. She played professionally on tour for over 10 years, including 2 years on the LPGA. She was also named the 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Tour Low Teaching Pro of the Year, and is now the lead instructor of the Sardis Golf Academy. She can be contacted at 604-798-9805, chilliwackgolfacademy.com, or at Jennifer@chilliwackgolf.com