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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Basic Principles of Good Punching

This is the next step up in my progression of how you carry the good practices you learn in a putting stroke into your full swing. We started with putting, then chipping, and now punching.

Punching is the term I use for long shots, especially ones you want to keep low, that don’t use wrist action; in essence, a punch is a long, powerful chip shot. The following list is basically the same as the Basic Principles of Good Chipping; the principles in italics are the ones that have altered slightly as the stroke lengthens and new techniques are employed.
  1. The clubface should remain square to the stroke path; the forearms should NOT rotate during the execution of the stroke.
  2. Unless we have a good reason to do otherwise, the club should be held in a slant-parallel grip where both palms are parallel to each other but the grip is turned slightly strong. This allows us to keep the wrists firm through impact without tensing the hands and forearms.
  3. The club should be held no tighter than necessary, without tension in the arms or shoulders or hands.
  4. The club handle should be held so that the shaft aligns with the forearms. (Some people will grip the handle a bit more in the fingers when they chip, but the grip change in (2) will still keep the forearms pretty much parallel with the shaft.)
  5. Unless making a specialized stroke, the club should never follow an outside-to-inside path (a cut stroke).
  6. The clubhead should travel on a slightly upward path on the backswing and more downward on the downstroke, in order to trap as little grass as possible between the ball and the clubface.
  7. The lower body should not be rigid, neither should it be consciously moved. It should move no more than the natural execution of the stroke requires.
Principle 5 is the only real change from our chipping principles. On occasion, we need a punch shot to curve around an obstacle like a tree; in those cases, we may alter the path of the swing. Normally, however, we don’t want to alter this principle; the less we tinker with our normal swing, the more dependable it will be.

The punch also adds a new technique to the swing: Coiling the upper body, which adds most of the power to the shot. Chips and putts don’t require much coil at all.

Understanding how proper punching differs from chipping can make some shots, like the knockdown shot, much simpler to execute.

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