‘Soft distance’ keeps it low
By T.J. TOMASI
When circumstances such as a low-hanging branch force you to keep the ball low, there’s a special technique that produces what I call “soft distance.” Even though the trajectory of the shot is that of a hard-to-stop long iron, the “soft-and-low” actually comes into the target with some power.
The first step is to create an image of the shot in your mind — in other words, think low. Then select two more clubs than you normally would and choke down on the handle about 2 inches.
Position the ball one ball-width back of normal, but be careful. When you move the ball back in your stance, be sure to open your stance a bit in order to realign your shoulders to the target. Also, move your weight to your front side, where it should be to produce a low shot.
The swing itself is simply a low-hands move with the weight remaining on the front side throughout the swing. Be sure, however, to turn your target shoulder behind the ball because there is a tendency, when you’re trying to keep the ball down, to just lift the arms up without turning. Unfortunately, this causes you to slap at the ball with a return swing that is too steep, creating just the opposite of what you want: a high shot.
The keys for the low shot lie in your swing rhythm and your follow-through. Most golfers hit the ball much too hard when they try to keep it low, and the excess force drives the ball up in the air. So do the opposite when you want a low shot — swing with about half power, and be sure to finish with your hands, elbows and clubhead well below your shoulders.
Last, to hit the ball low, especially if the lie is bad, increase the grip pressure in both hands a bit so the club won’t turn in your hands on contact.