There are times when an off-line shot puts you in a place where all you can do is hit the ball low and advance it to a better position. In these situations, you need the punch shot. It’s smart, user-friendly and can eat up a good chunk of distance towards the green. Just remember one thing: to use it reliably, you have to practise this shot. Let me show you how in four steps.

1. Use Less Loft

David Leadbetter

Select a longer iron than normal, like a 6-iron where you might have chosen an 8-iron. But be careful not to choose a club that might hit the ball too low to carry whatever is between you and the fairway.

2. Grip Down

David Leadbetter

Even with a less-lofted club, you can hit it too high and catch a low-hanging branch. To avoid that, grip down a couple inches and play the ball about middle in your stance. That’ll keep the flight down.

3. Keep It Short

David Leadbetter

You don’t need the extra power that comes from a full backswing. You do need to swing in control and make solid contact. Try not to take the club back any farther than the point where your left arm is parallel to the ground.

4. Finish Low

David Leadbetter

The hands should lead the clubhead through impact. Once you strike the ball, the punch swing is almost over. A low finish produces a lower shot – one that just might get you back in position to save par.

– David Leadbetter operates 25 golf academies worldwide.