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Go easy with the knockdown punch

Golf Tips of the Week
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Have you ever faced a shot where you had to keep the ball under the wind to control ball flight? Or had to keep it low under a branch? We're often confronted with the knockdown shot. It's always fun for me to watch the British Open, because those blustery course conditions mean you must be proficient with the knockdown shot to succeed at this event. Not only do I employ this shot at some point in most rounds I play, I think of it as my favorite shot in the bag. Most players trying to hit this shot will move the ball way back in their stance. They then push their hands toward the target to de-loft the club. They too often chop down on the ball like it was a piece of timber. This is the perfect scenario for disaster. Let's first understand the goal for the shot. We must keep the ball low to the ground with as little backspin and sidespin on the ball as possible. Too much backspin on the ball will cause it to rise quickly. or the ball will slice or hook with sidespin. Choosing the correct club and proper fundamentals are the keys to executing this shot with minimum spin and maximum accuracy. The fundamentals are first: Grip - The target hand should be in a weak position, turned more to the target, to prevent it from releasing the club too much through impact. This will neutralize sidespin. Aim - The clubface should be perpendicular to the target line. The hips and feet should be aimed open to the target line to help get through the swing. Setup - Ball position should not be too far back in the stance. The further back, the more you must chop down into the ball which causes backspin which makes the ball rise. The ball position should be at the bottom of the of the swing arc. A few easy practice swings will help you find the correct position. Posture - You should remain as tall as possible with a little more weight on the target foot, about 60 percent. This will give you the contact you want to make the ball climb just enough to fly to the target. Club selection is the key in controlling trajectory. I will typically go down as many as two or three lofts to control ball flight. As an example, if I were trying to keep the ball down from 150 yards into the wind I may opt to hit a 5 or a 6 iron rather than my normal 8 iron. Let the club loft keep it low rather than faulty fundamentals. When you play in windy conditions or on a tree lined golf course you will be forced to knock it down and keep it low. A better understanding of the proper fundamentals and how to change lofts will definitely keep both the ball and your score down, as a result. ... This week starts the last Major of the year, the PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club in Illinois. This event has special meaning for me, first because I am a PGA member and this is our championship. I have also had the opportunity to play in three of these events, including the last PGA Championship at Medinah. What a thrill it was! q q q Shawn Kelly is a PGA professional at The Ridge Golf Club. He can be reached for questions or lessons at (530) 888-PUTT.