Around the Tree, on the Green

What do you do when a tree is between you and the green (and glory and riches)? You curve the ball around the tree. Once you learn this shot, you'll not only save strokes and cash, but you'll also relax on the tee.

Now that I know how to hit this shot, I wish — sorta — I could use it at least once per round. It's that awesome! My wish often comes true, unfortunately; I've been known to spray a shot or two from the tee and end up with a tree directly between me and the green.

In the past, I would trudge to the ball mumbling and moaning about my miserable lot in life. I'd take my medicine, tap the ball into the fairway and lose a stroke. Ah, but now I practically skip to my ball behind a tree, anticipating what may be the shot of the season, the one I'll recall years later (as I am now).

The more you close the club face, the more the ball curves.

I Pulled It Off, First Time

The first time I hit it was on the 10th hole at Phalen Park Golf Course in St. Paul, a short par 4. I pulled my tee shot left and found myself in that familiar position of being about 10 yards behind a tree. The previous week I had seen a video by Rickard Strongert, "How to Curve the Ball out of Trouble". I can't imagine what possessed me to watch the video, but I did.

Using what I learned in the video — and not even trying the shot on the range — I pulled it off! I drew the ball around the tree, keeping it low and rolling onto the green. Two putts later, I walked off with a par. It's not that tough of a shot, so here's how Strongert teaches you (right-handers) to curve the ball from right to left around a tree, as Ricky Fowler is doing in the shot below.

Executive summary: Set up and swing as normal, but change the position of the club face from square to closed before you grip. The more you close the club face, the more the ball will curve. Closing the club face also reduces the loft of the club, making the ball fly lower (see video).

Here's the how-to in three steps:

  1. Use a low to mid-iron, and place the club head square behind the ball.
  2. Aiming to the right of the trees, take your normal setup, close the club face according to how much you want to curve the ball and then take your grip.
  3. Swing as normal, and as your hands rotate through impact, the closed club face will make the ball curve left. If you have branches in the way of your back swing, you can avoid getting the club stuck by bending your legs so your swing travels flat around your body.

Check this video to see how right-handers curve the ball from left to right.

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