Obstacle course

Trees can be tricky to maneuver

Here are some tips to escape the hazard


(August 2009)
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Dale Crafton

Have you ever found yourself behind a tree, either in the rough or out of the extended fairway? Well, let’s talk about some options and how to execute them.
It seems to me that there are three reasonable options. You can go over the tree, under the tree or around the tree.
Ball played forward in stance: To hit over a tree, be sure to choose a club with enough loft. Put the ball position forward in your stance and this will give your club even more effective loft.

Ball Forward

Ball Back

Abbreviated Follow Through

Photos provided

(Top) Ball is played forward. (Middle) Stance shows ball position back in your stance. (Below) Use an abbreviated follow through.

Keep your weight favoring your trail leg and use plenty of independent arm swing to keep your body quiet. Any lateral or forward body movement may deloft the club through impact causing the ball to go into the tree.
Use an abbreviated follow through if hitting under a tree is your option, play the ball back in your stance with your hands forward to deloft the club. Favor your lead side with your weight and use an abbreviated finish to keep the loft of the club face through impact, creating a lower ball flight. You will want to use a low lofted iron to play this shot.
To curve the ball around the tree with a draw (for right handers), the club face will have to be “closed” to the swing path through impact.
Club face “open”
The opposite is true if you want to play a fade. Here, the clubface will have to be “open” to the swing path through impact.

Club face closed

Photos provided

(Top) The club face is closed. (Below) the stance with the club-face open.

Club face open

Be certain to visualize the shot before playing. A simple guideline is to aim the clubface where you want the ball to end up and then align your body where you want the ball to start off.
Remember that if you are playing a curved shot out of a deeper rough, the grass between the ball and the clubface will eliminate spin making this shot more difficult. Just be certain not to start your ball toward trouble, in case it doesn’t curve as intended.

• Dale Crafton is the owner and instructor at Cozy Acres Golf Complex, 4040 Old State Rd. 62, Madison, Ind. Call him at (812) 273-3137.


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