How to Navigate a Trouble Shot Through the Trees

In this episode of Swing Clinic, Jimmy Hanlin teaches Caroline Collins how to escape tree trouble by executing a low punch. Jimmy provides a few keys to escaping the trees and saving par.  

Use a Lower Lofted Club

Using a lofted club when escaping tree trouble can compound your problem by shooting the ball into the branches. Use a lower lofted club, such as a 5-iron or 6-iron, to keep the shot below the branches. Controlling the launch angle of the shot gives you the best chance to leave the forest.

Hit a Low Trajectory Shot

You need to hit a low trajectory shot to stay out of the trees. If you swing hard, you put speed and spin on the ball. This creates a higher trajectory, sending the ball into the branches and forcing you to execute another, probably more difficult, recovery shot. Make a smooth, controlled swing to keep the ball low. Remember, this is a recovery shot, so landing on the green is ideal, but the real goal is putting yourself in position to save par.  

Move the Ball Slightly Back In Your Stance

Move the ball towards your back foot as you take your stance. Playing the ball back in your stance reduces the club’s loft at impact, creating a lower trajectory shot that scoots under the branches. 

Leaning your upper body forward through the backswing and downswing keeps your hands in front of the club. Keeping your hands in front of the club delofts it, ensuring a lower launch angle. If you allow your hands to reach a normal swing position, you add loft to the club, bringing the branches back in to play.

Finish Lower Than Your Front Shoulder

Finishing above your front shoulder adds loft and spin to the shot. Adding loft creates a higher launch angle, causing your shot to flirt with the trees. Finishing with your club below your front shoulder keeps loft off the shot and keeps you out of the trees.  

Trying to hit the hero shot through the branches or over trees will keep you in trouble and have you facing 20-footers for double bogey. Follow Jimmy’s simple steps to keep the ball under the trees. The hero shot feels incredible when it works, but it’s better to make par from trouble on a regular basis.

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