Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands


How to adjust your swing to clear the trees

April 02, 2020

As a golf instructor, I’m supposed to tell you that going for the green by hitting a middle-iron shot over tall trees is too risky. It’s better to punch out and play for a one-putt par. But part of the allure of playing golf is trying the tough shots, so I’m shelving the prudent rhetoric and going to teach you how to get the ball over the top.

If you’ve attempted this shot before, only to hit a line drive off the trunk or a low-hanging branch, it’s probably because you’re trying too hard to get the ball up. Just a hunch, but you’re likely swinging off your back foot and you’re catching the ball low on the clubface. Skull city.

A shallow approach will raise your ball flight.

Instead, I want you set up to the ball so it’s a little farther forward in your stance than you normally play it, stand a little wider and have a little more tilt to your spine (away from the tree).

Now comes the fun part: Try to hit the ball as hard as you can while staying in your address posture. Coupled with the adjustments you made at address, keeping some flex in your legs when you swing will shallow your angle into the ball, which promotes a higher launch. And hitting the ball harder creates more spin, meaning the ball will get up quicker and stay up longer.

Instead of one swing thought, here are two: Stay down and hit it hard. —WITH RON KASPRISKE

Chris Mayson is a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher. He’s based at Maderas Golf Club in Poway, Calif.


Q: My TaylorMade RSi 2 5-iron is missing the plate on the back with the logo. Does that make it nonconforming? Ryan Arnold, Agoura Hills, Calif.

A: Although a missing part or parts might cause a conforming club to become nonconforming, the badge you describe wouldn’t, says the USGA. Note that if a player uses a nonconforming club, the penalty is disqualification. See Rule 4.1a.