I want to give you a safety-first shot. It's called the punch shot, and you play it from the three-iron up to the nine. When properly hit, a punch shot flies in a low trajectory. It never "takes off" on you like a high-flying approach, it sits down with a little drag on it when it lands and recommends itself as an especially fine type of control shot to play when you have a following wind and there is lots of trouble back of the green. I use it regularly when I want to be certain to avoid going over a green and collecting extra strokes for my troubles.
Let's say I have an approach of 160 yards. I could get there with a six-iron but instead I take a five. One club more is the general rule. I grip the club slightly lower down the shaft and play the ball a bit closer to my right foot. I close the face of the club—just a fraction—and I drag it back more than usual. I use a three-quarter-length swing. As I come down, my hands are farther in front than they normally are and I don't uncock quite so fast. This delay in the snap gives the feel of punching at the ball, and this action gives the ball the flight and the drag that keeps it from going farther than the player intends.
from CARY MIDDLECOFF, Masters champion 1955
As Cary Middlecoff moves into a punch shot, his hands are well in front, the wrists uncocked at the last moment
NEXT WEEK: HARRY PEZZULLO ON PLAYING INTO THE WIND