Money Shots

Every round requires at least one money-shot situation to win a few skins or to stay competitive when the chips are down

What Trees? 6. What Trees?
Negotiating a shot around trees is a matter of first deciding what shot gives you the highest percentage for success. If there’s a tree blocking your view from the green, decide whether the smart play is to try and go over it or punch a shot below it. Going over will require crisp contact and a lot of carry, making it the option if you need to get it close to the pin with little roll or if there’s a bunker guarding the front of the green. A safer play is to hit under the tree, barring any hazards near the green that could get in the way. To hit it high, position the ball forward in your stance, open the face and keep your weight on your back foot. As you take the club back, make a full backswing with a swift wrist cock.  Begin the downswing by turning and not shifting forward, and keep the face open well through impact.

To hit it low, take a long iron and choke down. Position the ball in the middle of your stance, with your hands and weight on your forward foot. With minimal cock in the wrists, make a sweeping motion through the ball and concentrate on ball-first contact.

Fairway Bunker Recovery 7. Fairway Bunker Recovery
In case you thought it wasn’t possible to hit a fairway wood from the bunker, think again.

If you face a fairway bunker and a fairway wood is necessary to reach the green, consider going for it as long as the bunker features a shallow lip. If not, take your medicine and move on to the next money shot. If you do have clearance, here’s how to do it. First, make sure your feet are secure; dig into the sand to prevent slippage. Position the ball slightly back of center but with your weight more over your forward foot. Choke down and aim left of the intended target. Because your ball is slightly back from center and your weight is toward your front foot, the flight path will steer right, so account for a low fade.

As you take the club back, expect your swing to be a little more upright than usual. This is due to the fact that your feet are planted and your weight is slightly forward. So despite the steep backswing, don’t feel the need to stab down at the ball. Instead, swing freely and make ball-first contact. The ball will fly low with lots of roll—hopefully enough to get you on the green.

This shot is also effective with a hybrid club. Just be sure you have a decent lie and there isn’t a big lip in front of you. Even with a hybrid, you’ll still get a low ballflight.

Always be sure your hands work together for every shot. In this case, you don’t need a strong grip so allow your hands to stay loose, but remain connected.

Sidehill Lie 8. Sidehill Lie Into Green
Okay, you have a shot and you must hit the green. Don’t forget to factor the effects of a sidehill lie.

Sidehill lies can be challenging, but not if you know what to expect when you encounter one. For starters, when the ball is above your feet, it’s going to hook. Below your feet, the likely shot will be a fade. With longer irons, the ball will hook or fade more than it will with shorter clubs.

In my case, the ball is above my feet. This means the ball will launch right of the target and draw back toward the pin. However, since I’m in the rough, there won’t be as much draw spin had I been in the fairway, so I can take a more aggressive line at the target. I start by addressing the ball with a slightly closed stance, a centered ball position and my weight evenly distributed over both heels. Since I’m on a slope, I’m going to take the club back on an inside-out path that will produce a drawing trajectory. The key is to not force a straight-back backswing into the slope. The opposite is true for a fade. Just allow the slope to dictate what swing path is best.

Let the slope determine the shape of your swing and allow for the necessary sidespin needed to hit the green. In the rough, expect a straighter shot than from the fairway.


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