Master The Art Of The Punch Shot

Scott NewhouseGolfer's Guide instruction by Scott Newhouse

From a sand wedge 60 yards away to a 4-iron recovery shot through the trees back into play, the punch shot is a shot that takes practice. Let’s talk about the recovery shot first. One thing that I have learned by watching the 15 to 30 handicappers is that when you are in trouble, the first rule is to get out of trouble. So grab your 4- or 5-iron and head to the practice facility.

As we know, the most important part of hitting a punch shot is to catch the ball first. By putting the ball one ball right of the center of your stance, we can hit down on the ball, keeping it low and ensuring that we do not catch any thick grass, twigs, pine straw or sand before we strike the ball.

If you are able to put and keep some extra weight at address on the left leg, that would be even better. Hands forward? Sure, just make sure the weight stays on the left and the hands stay in front of the club head. Let’s try not to get  “scoopy.” I know it is natural to try to lift the ball, but as Jim McLean says, “it’s a death move!” So make sure your hands are forward, your weight forward and the ball is one ball right of center.

Now, as I teach in all of my full-swing lessons, the shoulder rotation takes care of the rest. After the setup has been accomplished, your rotation away should allow the golf club to be picked up abruptly without setting your hands. Just turn back and through and the club will return to the ball with a downward blow. Remember; try not to help by scooping. If you do, you will have the same shot just 10 feet from where you just tried the last one.

Okay, punch wedges. Try using this method with a sand or pitching wedge. Let’s try it with a sand wedge first. To recap, we will be trying this from any yardage you want. Let’s begin with 70 yards. Okay, same setup as the 4-iron recovery shot -- weight forward, hands forward and ball one ball right of center. Take a ¾ swing with very little hand action. I

If successful, notice how the ball takes two hops and then stops. If this happens, you have accomplished something very special. With the same move, you can move this ball position to the center and have the ball fly slightly shorter and higher with one hop and a stop. Move it two balls back of center and have the ball hop twice and release slightly. Remember, if you are helping the ball with a little “early release” success may not be immediate.

Okay, now let’s talk about what shot to hit when. Well, maybe we will save that for our lesson!

Scott Newhouse is a PGA Professional at The TwinEagles Club in Naples, Fla. Contact him at (239) 352-0002.


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