The Punch Shot: The Ultimate “Get It Back in Play” Shot

Golf Punch Shot

Did you know that PGA Tour players only hit 60% of fairways? This means that 40% of their time is spent navigating the fairway bunkers, trees, and rough just like we everyday golfers. 

So if you only hit 40 or 50% of fairways in regulation, don’t beat yourself up. But you need to learn how to play a punch shot to get yourself back in position when you’re under trees.

Continue reading to learn more about the basic golf shot and how you can save strokes every round. 

How to Hit a Punch Shot 

This simple 5-step process will allow you to hit a low-punch shot with a lower flight ball. 

Step 1: Evaluate the shot 

If you find yourself in a bad spot off the tees, the first thing to do is to analyze the shot. If you’re in the trees, this is the time to get strategic to eliminate big numbers (like a double bogey or worse). Too many golfers try and hit heroic shots through trees instead of just punching out. 

A good tip is to punch out back to fairway to avoid a bad tee shot. Calculate your distance and the hole location before you decide where to hit.

First, consider whether there are other options or gaps that you can reach. You will have the best chance to get yourself back in place if you find the largest one. 

Next, assess the lie. This will determine the type of shot you should hit.

If your ball is lying down in the rough, it will likely go lower, but may not be able or able to use as many clubs. If your golf ball is sitting up, it might require a lower lofted club because it might create the ball to “jump” (aka a flier lie) and hit any low-hanging branches.

Step 2 – Choose the Right Club 

Once you assess the shot and lie for your low shot, it’s time to select the right club. Based on the length of your shot, you will want to use less loft. 

To hit a low shot you want less loft – which typically means a longer club like 3-5 iron (if it’s a full shot). You will often need more club because you will get choked up.

But don’t automatically assume that you always need to use your 3, 4 or 5 iron. Since they’re harder to hit than a 5 or 6 iron, it’s not always the best idea.

Plus, if you’re close to the green you can hit the ball low with a short iron based on the following swing adjustments. If you have to keep the ball low, use your longest iron.

To hit a full low punch shot, it’s a good idea to hit a long iron and not a hybrid for these shots. Hybrids are designed to launch the golf club higher than long irons. This makes them bad choices for punch shots.

Step 3: Change your address position

Once you have a good understanding of the shot, club, and other details, you can do three things.

First, it’s time to paint a clear picture in your mind. You can visualize the shot better and swing confidently if you are clear about it. Many amateur golfers skip this step, and never commit to the ball flight for low punch shots. 

Next, change your mindset. Think of it as a game. AccordingGreg Norman says that this shot should be compared to a pitch shot.

“The address position is almost the same as for a chip shot. You grip down on the shaft of the club and play the ball back near the center of your stance, so that your hands are well forward and about two thirds of your weight is on your left side.”

Choking up on the club by about 1-2 inches will make it shorter. This will give more control and allow for you to hit it straighter. It’s similar to a knockdown shot. This will create a descending blow, which keeps it lower by shifting your weight towards your front foot. 

Finally, move the ball slightly back in your stance as you don’t want it off your front foot. For a punch shot, the ball position should be about 1-2 balls behind your normal position.

Typically, in the middle or one ball back of the middle – don’t put it off your back foot as you’ll struggle to make good contact. For loft reduction, ensure your hands are forward so your lead wrist is in front.

Step 4: Use a shorter backswing

A smaller backswing is the fourth step in hitting punching shots. A full backswing that nearly reaches parallel position is not what you want.

Instead, lower the club to your shoulder height. You can even take the club to your waist for very short distance punch shots. 

Greg Norman stated in the same article that “…” “Another aspect of the punch shot is that it is played with a relatively fast swing, like a boxing jab. It’s a quick back-and-through motion with some snap to it. 

Keep your wrists clear of the club, and keep your hands as low as possible while you swing. The follow-through is very short – your hands shouldn’t move much past your left knee.” 

Tempo is crucial when it comes to your backswing. Too many golfers tend either to take it back too fast or too slow.

You are more likely to accelerate too fast and hit the shot too high if you take it back too slowly. This usually leads to hitting branches and having to repeat a similar shot.

Other golfers may swing the club too far back, which can lead to deceleration. If you take a normal length backswing but only want to follow through to your waist, it’s almost inevitable that you slow down at impact. This leads to the ball going almost nowhere, especially if you’re deep rough.

So make sure to take a quick, efficient backswing that isn’t too long. To feel the smaller swing, take 2-3 practice swings behind your golf ball and visualize the shot.

Step 5: Follow through with small steps

You should also finish your golf swing in a lower position. When you are trying to hit low punch shots, you don’t want to wrap your body around like normal.

The follow-through time is shorter the lower the ball should go.

I like thinking, swinging to my ribs or less. This will allow you to fly the golf ball lower and get it back in play. You can save the high follow-through for high shots where the ball is more high in the air.

Try the Punch Shot

The punch shot isn’t a complex one and will become second nature after some time. It is best to practice it. To see how low you can hit it, practice a lot on the driving range with different clubs. 

Try different ball positions, gripping it tighter, and experimenting with different swing lengths. This will give you more confidence when you’re out on the course. 

Punch Shot vs. Stinger in Golf 

You may be curious about the differences between a punch shot or a stinger shot. If you don’t know about the stinger, it’s a golf shot that has been made famous thanks to Tiger Woods.

A stinger in golf is a low-flighted long iron that doesn’t get very high off the ground but runs like crazy. This shot was very useful for Tiger when he was playing links golf in the early 2000s. This was a reliable option from the tee because he hit his driver all across the course.

What is the difference between a punch shot and this shot?

A stinger is a shot that is made off the tee. This is usually done with a long iron. A punch shot is made when hitting under trees or playing in the wind. 

A stinger is a full backswing with almost full follow through. A punch shot is a smaller backswing with a shorter follow through. 

Click here to find out more about the stinger golf. 

FAQs on Golf’s Low Punch Shot

Are you looking for more information about how to hit a golf shot? Continue reading if you have more questions about hitting a golf punch shot.

What is a golf knockdown shot, you ask?

A knockdown is a reliable shot that is very similar to a punch shot. A knockdown, on the other hand, is a more powerful shot type and can travel 80-85% of your normal distance. A punch shot can travel 30-100 yards (or slightly longer depending on the shot).

The two types of shots share many similarities, including:

  • Hands ahead
  • Weight forward
  • Further back ball position
  • Golf club: Get up and play 
  • A smaller backswing and follow-through 

Are stingers as effective as a snare? 

If you can hit them consistently well, stingers are great golf shots. Most golfers don’t have the correct swing sequence and fundamentals to execute a low-flighted long iron. However, some pros and amateur scratch golfers have the right swing sequences and fundamentals to execute a low-flighted long iron. This makes them reliable.

They may go further than normal shots depending on the conditions. If the fairways are dry, they can get a lot more roll-out. 

Final Thoughts 

This 5-step process will help you hit better punch shots. Keep your weight forward and your hands ahead of you. If you need to beat strong winds or keep it under trees, make sure to choke up.

Now that you know the fundamentals, it’s crucial to work on them at the driving range so you can execute on the golf course.

Don’t forget, even professional golfers only hit about 60% of fairways each round. This means you’ll average about 50-60% and likely need to hit punch shots throughout the round. This shot is important to save shots and recover from a bad drive.

Just remember, don’t try to play overly aggressive from the trees. Sometimes you have to take your medicine to get the ball back in play.