Golf Tips: Getting the best results from a knock down shot

By: Shawn Kelly
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When weather and course conditions change, being able to play a knock down shot will help you score. I employ this shot at some point in most rounds that I play, and I think of it as the favorite shot in my bag. The shot needs to fly low with little or no side spin so that it will tend to roll out on the fairway a bit, depending on the loft you choose.

Most players trying to hit this shot will move the ball way back in their stance, push the hands toward the target to de-loft the club and chop down on the ball as though they were digging for a gold nugget. This is the perfect scenario for disaster. That swing will only create more altitude and sidespin.

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 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 help 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 the body to get through the swing.

• Ball position should not be too far back in the stance. The farther back, the more your angle of attack is steeper 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 from a level lie. This will give you the contact you want to make the ball climb just enough to fly to the target. Remember your posture and ball position will change from an uneven lie. 

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. 

Have fun enjoying the favorite shot in my bag.