Punching Under Trees

, GolfLink Editor
Updated August 29, 2023
Golfer playing a shot from behind two large trees
    Golfer playing a shot from behind two large trees
    Andrew Holt
    Getty image license

Trees are part of most golf courses, and sooner or later you're going to find yourself stuck behind a tree, with no clear line to the hole. These four lessons will help you limit the damage of tree trouble and get you back in play.

How to Pick the Right Club to Hit From Under a Tree

As you can see I have hit my ball into a position where I have to get under some trees. I am only 145 yards from the hole but I can not get it up where I would want to hit an 8-iron and I am going to have to go underneath.

What club should I use? Let's take a little test; here is something you can do that is completely legal.

  • I am going to set this club down on the ground, the club that I would like to use for this distance, and when I step on the face of the club until it lifts the shaft up, as you can see the angle that it goes to, which is the angle that the ball is going to come out, it is going to hit those lower branches of the trees. So that club is not going to work.
  • Let's take a 4-iron now, step down on it, and that is going to go under the trees quite easily, so let's take that 4-iron for this shot.

How to Play a Low Shot Under a Tree

If you are stuck in the trees, there are a couple of things to consider.

First thing is, make sure you get your next shot back into the fairway. If you are going to try to play a shot underneath the tree, you got a couple of adjustments to make. One, put the ball back in your stance, put your hands a little forward and choke down on the club. This will give you a little bit shorter swing and actually keep the golf ball down lower.

But your club selection is probably most important thing. If you feel certain you can hit a 5-iron underneath that tree, take out a 4-iron just to make sure.

How to Hit Your Golf Ball When It's Stuck Against a Tree Trunk

How am I going to play this?

There is my rehearsal, you can see me swing the club up and down and colliding with the ground. I am trying to find where this club is going to bottom out because this is not a shot that I play every day of my life.

my goal is the fairway. It did not quite get to the fairway because I hit it a little fat, but you know what, I no longer have to deal with this tree and wasn't that my original intent. I did not have to take an unplayable lie which is a one stroke penalty. I still got to go ahead and hit the shot. Why? Because I knew how to play the shot. So when you have a tree in the way the main thing is to improvise. Find a way to turn the club where it is aiming where you want to go. Find a motion, I am right handed so I use my dominant arm, find the ground, and then with very little hesitation set up, pull the trigger.


How to Hit a Hook Shot Out of Trouble

I have never played a round where I have not had to play one or more of these shots so if you practice them you will be better prepared.

  • The hook shot first of all, what we have to do is get that ball to spin in a counter clockwise fashion.
  • The only way I can do that is to have the clubface closed to the path of the swing.
  • So if I can get the path of the swing traveling to the right of the tree in front of me and I can have the clubface closed to that path, which means the face is pointing left, that in itself is going to put a counter-clockwise spin on the ball.