Something for the Weekend: Punching into the wind


Bob Warters's picture
Bob Warters
Wed, 24 Aug 2011

Steve North (our links golf expert)

During a recent visit to the Home of Golf I met up with Steve North, director of instruction at the St Andrews Links Trust, who taught me how to play a popular shot in those parts - the punch shot into wind.

1. Set-up, hands forward, ball back, weight left 

“When you play St Andrews,” he tells me, “its proximity to the sea and its swirling on-shore breezes means that you are invariably going to be playing shots into wind, into a cross wind and down wind. So it's important for visitors to know how to adjust their technique when playing into a wind to keep the ball under the wind and stop it ballooning and losing distance and accuracy.

“The idea is to play a low, penetrating shot to reduce the effects of the elements and keep the ball on as straight a path as possible to its target. So pick your least lofted club - a long iron for shots of around 150 yards and a hybrid or fairway metal for those of 180 yards to 200 yards, ensuring the balls rolls when it lands.

2. Full shoulder turn and hip swivel

“For a 5-iron shot into a 20-30mph wind position the ball back in your stance just inside your right heel wth the weight on the left side and the hands forward. The idea is to maintain that position through impact to keep the loft off the clubface for as long as possible and that will drill the ball in a very low trajectory and keep it under the wind.

“With less wind bring the ball to slightly right of centre in your stance with your weight a little bit on the left side.

3. Head still and behind the ball through impact

“I would also recommend golfers choke down on the grip which helps creates a more compact swing, which should not be full.  Swinging too hard may produce too much speed and send the ball too high. Use a half swing with a cut off in the follow through to help keep the ball under control.

“Also bear in mind your hand speed. Too much hand action can result in a low hook, so don't let the right hand rotate over the left too quickly.

4. Cut of follow through helps keep the ball low

“To hit downwind, successfully,  position the ball slightly forward in your stance, which helps promotes a higher ball flight.”

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