Genesis Scottish Open

The Renaissance Club

Approach Shots

Kevin Kisner: Tree to Green

How to hit it over, under or around any obstacle
By Kevin Kisner Photos by J.D. Cuban
November 06, 2015


This is usually your best and safest option. First, select a club longer than you'd normally use from this distance and grip down about an inch. This will help lower the ball flight but still produce the required distance. Next, address the ball with your feet no more than shoulder-width apart, and feel like your chest is directly over it--my teacher, John Tillery, emphasizes this point. Swing the club on a plane more horizontal than vertical, like tracing the path of a Hula-Hoop. This will keep you under the branches but will let you hit it high enough to get good distance.


Pick a club you feel confident can get the ball over the tree. If you're between two clubs, always go with more loft. Ball position is crucial. Address it almost like you were hitting a driver, off your front heel. Your left shoulder should be noticeably higher than your right, and your spine tilted away from the target. This setup will promote a higher shot. When you swing, try to hit up on the ball. To do that, make a shallow pass through impact, skimming the ground right before and after the strike.

One word of caution: When you start the downswing, make sure you shift your weight to the left side. If it stays back, you'll likely hit the ball thin--and too low to get over the tree.


You can make the ball curve simply by adjusting your setup. If you want to go around a tree on a right-to-left path, address the ball just back of center in your stance. Then set the clubface behind the ball so it's aimed right of the tree. Line up your shoulders, hips and feet so they're pointing even farther to the right. Finally, swing along your body line.

To make the ball curve left to right, play it farther forward than center and set the clubface so it's pointing left of the tree. Align your body even farther left than the clubface. Then swing along your body line. Follow this formula, and you can curve a ball around anything and turn a potential double bogey into a nice par save. With Ron Kaspriske

Kevin Kisner has three second-place finishes on tour in 2015 and is top 20 in scrambling.