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The Punch Shot

By: Mike Kiely BA (hons) - Updated: 27 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Punch Backswing Follow Through Club Ball

The success of approach shots is all about assessing your situation, and that includes the elements that are outside your control, such as the prevailing weather conditions and the design of the green.

We would all like to find ourselves looking towards the green on a bright, sunny, windless day when the performance of the ball is going to be all about touch and technique. Unfortunately, such days are all too rare, particularly on links courses when coastal breezes regularly punctuate even the warmest months of the year, so with the wind ruffling the collar of your rain jacket and perhaps the promise of a shower in the air, the best solution is to forget about flighting the ball in a majestic arc onto the green and hitting low to minimise the influence of the wind.

Within Sight of the Hole

The same is true should you be facing one of those tricky two-tier greens. Yes, you’d like to land that ball on the upper level and two or three feet from the hole, but get your calculations slightly wrong and you’ll be spending more time than you would wish with the putter, in an attempt to lift the ball onto the upper level and within sight of the hole. A punch shot in this instance will greatly enhance your chances of achieving the desired ball position; in short, it is the percentage shot that all but the most skilled practitioners should opt for.

So how to execute the punch: firstly, as the name suggests you are looking for a decent amount of power but without the trajectory. So aim for a shorter than normal backswing, your feet positioned to allow the hands to feel slightly in front of the ball as you address it. As the club face swings forward, keep your upper body and your hands nice and solid to that they work through the ball as you strike.

Gain a Good Position

Ensure, too, that you keep your head nice and steady and don’t be tempted to bring it up too soon during the follow through. On no account allow your wrists to influence the strike as this may leave you in an even more difficult position. One way to counter any temptation to use the wrists to impart greater power is to choose an iron one down from what you would normally use over the estimated distance. This should give you that extra “punch” required to run up to the green and gain a good position.

As with all shot-making, ensure that you spend some time in practise perfecting the short backswing and follow-through required for a good punch, and when on the course don’t be afraid of turning to it when a particular situation arises. Some purists may frown on it as an all too easy option that lacks grace or panache, but always remember that the object of the game is to dunk that ball in as few shots as possible. If the punch is going to prove the decisive weapon in flooring your opponent, never be afraid to use it.

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