How to Hit a Low Punch Shot Under the Trees

A reader of the site emailed me the other day, and was looking for help with the low punch shot required to get out of trouble. Luckily this is one of my specialties, so I was happy to help him out.

This is probably one of the most important shots to master at any level, especially for high handicappers. When you hit your tee shot off line, and find yourself in trouble, the next decision you make is very important. I can’t tell you how many times I have saved a hole because of a great punch shot out of the trees.

Many golfers opt to “go for it,” and try and pull off a low percentage shot, which generally compounds your mistake. Usually the smarter play is to find the biggest opening, and just punch your ball back onto the fairway.

Take your medicine, and move on.

How to play it

The shot itself is not that complicated, but the reason most golfers don’t know how to do it is because they never practice it on the range, and/or they are using the wrong technique.

The biggest mistake players make is that they take way too long of a swing, which has a tendency to send the ball on a higher trajectory. Everything about this shot should be abbreviated.

Think of it as more of a chip shot rather than a full swing.

Here are some keys to hitting a low punch shot that can get you out of trouble:

  • You don’t have to hit the ball as hard as you think to advance it 30-60 yards, and running down the fairway. Making clean contact is the most important part. Think about doing 20-40% of your normal swing.
  • Address the ball like a chip shot. Keep your weight forward, hands ahead of the ball (shaft leaning forward), and position the ball further back in your stance. Your goal is to make contact with the ball first, and “trap” it. Clean contact is the most important part!
  • Your follow through is abbreviated, and try to finish with the club face lower to the ground.
  • Your arms, and the rotation of your torso mostly dictate the shot. Your lower body will be completely quiet.

You can vary the height of your shot by the club you select, and the length of your swing. This is where experimentation on the range is crucial.

Personally I will use anything between a 4-iron to 8-iron. If I am trying to hit a really low shot that runs, I choose a 4-iron and try to keep the club face closed through impact. If I have some more room to work with in terms of height, and I don’t want the ball to run, I might use a 7 or 8-iron.

Just like your wedge shots, the length of your swing will help determine how far the ball will travel. I have always found that shorter is better since making proper contact with the ball is your number one goal.

Since I’m not into video lessons yet, I wanted to show you one that illustrates everything I have just said. I think these instructors do a great job. Pay attention to how short his swing is.

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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.

If you ever have questions feel free to email me -

I am happy to help anyone out!

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