Golfers can spend a lot of time at the range hitting long shots trying to master their usual full swing, but it is important to remind ourselves that when playing golf we will be called upon to play a variety of shots to deal with the conditions or situations we put ourselves in. It is not unusual to find the ball in circumstances where keeping the ball low is going to be very useful like into a strong headwind or playing it under some overhanging branches of trees. The most common term for this type of shot is a punch or knock down shot. There are a few pointers to note when trying to execute this shot.
Club selection – the one thing you should do here is club down (lower loft) at least 2 or 3 clubs more than you think. It is the one thing I see often is players only taking one club less than normal into a strong wind. Another situation is when somebody is under a tree and is trying to put the ball back onto the fairway and because it is not a long shot, some golfers still use a lofted club. Don’t be afraid to go to a very low lofted club like a 5 or 4 iron.
Set up – taking into account you should have already taken a much lower lofted club than normal you don’t need to place the ball too far back in the stance, if you’re on the fairway playing into wind play it from the middle of the stance. If you are in the rough looking to keep it below the branches it might be worth putting it a little bit further back than this if the lie isn’t great. You should try and get the club a little more upright at address as this helps to make your attack angle a touch steeper also gripping the club slightly shorter helps this process.
Swing – two things to be mindful of in the swing, firstly it should be shorter than normal. This is especially true of the follow through it needs to be abbreviated. The second point is that the swing tempo needs to be kept easy with the rhythm of the swing being smooth. Of course this is not always easy to do when your hitting into gale force winds none the less it is important to achieve this as swinging fast and hitting the ball hard will only lead to the ball wanting to climb up the air for most of us.
This shot is only valuable if you practice it though. It’s not difficult to execute, and can save you a ton of strokes. You just need to work on the range a bit to feel comfortable with the technique and understanding your trajectories and distances with various clubs