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How to Hit a Knock Down
Hitting it Under the Wind

Swing Easy When it's Breezy

Knock down or punch shot? What's the difference? A lot actually. These two shots are often confused by golfers across the globe. It wasn't until I

Learn how to knock it down under the wind.  Knock it Down
was in college that I truly understood the difference. I was fortunate to run into George Burns while taking a lesson from a top teaching pro down in Florida. Not George Burns the comedian, but George Burns the golfer with 4 wins on the PGA Tour. He happened to be working on a very specific shot which he said helped him excel and win events in the wind; the knock down. In explaining how he hit the shot he said something which was the exact opposite of what I typically did when hitting into a head win. He said he slowed down his rate of rotation and swung easy. It was natural to me when I had a strong wind in my face to want to swing harder to get the ball through the wind and not lose distance. I didn't realize however that this was backfiring on me. When you swing hard the ball balloons upward into the wind. It seemed so simple and it is really. "Swing easy when it's breezy" is great advice. So what's the difference between a knock down and a punch shot? A knock down as we said is simply swinging easier. Of course you would need to go down in loft as well, but it's basically still a full swing. A punch shot however is a more aggressive (but not too much) abbreviated swing. With a punch shot you are simply trying to punch the ball out of trouble and back into play. With a knock down the goal is to get the ball to go the full distance to your target as if the wind didn't exist.

When the wind is in your face how do you know which club to pick? The general rule is to go up one club for every 10 mph. In the long run it's a bit of a guessing game. It takes some experimentation and experience in similar situations to get it right. Use the 10 mph rule as a guide, but use your best judgement. Wind changes speeds often and there are gusts that surprise you so you have to be prepared to adjust accordingly. In most cases you are better to be safe than sorry and take one extra club. With more club you will be confident that you don't have to jump at it and swing hard, which like I said earlier will cause the ball to come out higher.

Slowing Down is Not Easy

Learning to control your rate of rotation (speed) is easier said than done. For a lot of golfers they have one speed and that's it. They rarely change things up and don't have much of a feel for rhythm and tempo. To slow things down can be awkward and cause the swing to get out of sync. That's why it's important to stay smooth, committed and practice it away from the course. One of the best ways to do this is go to the driving range and pick any club. Let's use a 7 iron for example. Say your 7 iron is normally your 150 club. That's if you go at it 100%. Start by trying to swing at half speed. In your mind go at it with a 50 mph swing and try to knock it down to 75 yards. Then speed it up a bit and swing at 60 mph, then 70 mph, then 80 mph and so on. After you get accustomed to gradually increasing your speed, go the other way and practice decreasing it by slowing your turn through the ball. It's important to practice this away from the course in order to trust in when you need it.

Controlling your rate of rotation is part of the equation when faced with a knock down, but there are other important steps to take. Here is everything you need to do and in no particular order:

  • Choose the correct club - For every 10 mph add one more club. Be sure to take low enough loft that the ball will stay down and under the wind.
  • Play the ball back - Set the ball a bit back of center in your stance so that your clubface will still be delofted a bit when you strike the ball.
  • Set your weight forward - Play your weight forward on your front foot. Be sure to feel like your head and sternum stay over or in front of the ball and do not get behind it. This will help you shoot it out low.
  • Choke down - Choking down not only gives you better control, but will help you to keep your hands ahead of the clubhead and deloft it through impact.
  • Slow down your rate of rotation - Be careful not to swing hard or jump at the ball. Try to make a smooth, slow swing, but stay committed to it. Think of swinging at 50-80%.
  • Finish low - Finishing low will help you to keep the club behind your hands through impact and to stay over the ball as you strike it. A high finish on the other hand causes you to back up and adds more loft on the face.

As you can see there are 6 easy steps to take in order to hit a successful knock down shot. Be sure to practice both a knock down and a punch shot so that you can understand the difference and will be prepared when you need both on the course.

The Situation:

You want to learn how to hit a successful knock down shot.

The Solution:

Follow these steps outlined above to knock the ball down.

1) Choose the correct club
2) Play the ball back
3) Set your weight forward
4) Choke down
5) Slow down your rate of rotation
6) Finish low

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
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