Learning How To Hit The Knockdown Shot Into The Wind

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It is soooooo windy. Perfect conditions to practice hitting into the wind. The weather can change at a drop at a hat here in South Florida. One moment it could be sunny. The next, you are in the midst of a thunder storm. The wind can pick up quickly as well and it is important to be able to adjust to the elements on the fly.

Before I went out to practice today I reread this post about the knockdown shot by my online swing coach Mike Southern. The thing I like about Mike's writing is that he explains why we do certain drills and the situations we use them in. This helps me truly understand the drill and everything that encompasses it.

Mike wrote this post to expand on a tip that Hank Haney gave the viewers during the playing of the Deutsche Bank Championship. Haney gave us these three tips.

1. take a longer club
2. make a shorter swing
3. shorten your follow-through

I happened to be watching the telecast when Haney gave us the tip but I was still a little confused. Mike does a great job of explaining each point so that the amateur golfer can make sense of it. I especially like the analogy he uses for #3.

I hit the ball pretty well today. I used my 6 and 7-irons directly into the wind from about 130 yards out. It took some getting used to. Whenever I made a full swing, the ball would get caught up in the wind and come up short. With help from Mike, my 7-iron goes about 160-165 yards now. A 10 to 15 yard improvement. That is how strong the wind is right now for my ball to come up short.

The toughest thing was keeping the club face square at impact. Because I had to use an abbreviated swing, I sometimes decelerating into the ball instead of swinging through it. I pushed a lot of my shots to the right because of this. Once I corrected this, the ball flew at a much lower trajectory, cutting through the wind.

The weather people are predicting more wind for the rest of the week so I will continue to work on the knockdown shot. It is a crucial shot to have in windy weather and if you find yourself under low hanging tree limbs as Mike points out.

Take a moment to read Mike's article if you have been struggling under windy conditions and then get out there and practice. Having this shot in the bag will certainly help to lower your scores. Have a great round and always hit your target.



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Comments (4)

  1. October 7, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    Thanks for the kind words, Dex. I try to explain things simply because it's easier to do it if you understand why you're doing it.

    A thought about the deceleration problem: Actually, that push sounds more like you're jerking the club a little to get more speed from your shortened backswing, and since you're just trying to hit the ball harder, you shorten your followthrough. That's a common problem. I'd be willing to bet you've got a short followthrough after you hit the ball, don't you? That's why you think you're decelerating.

    Gravity is a constant acceleration, and it causes us to accelerate the club naturally unless we interfere with it. For most people, acceleration actually feels like they're swinging at a constant speed. But when they shorten their backswing, they feel like they need more effort to get the ball moving... so they swing harder and interfere with their normally good motion.

    An easy way to help stop this jerking is to make your followthrough is at least as long as your backswing. You don't need to swing harder, just keep the club moving so your finish is at least as long as your backswing. This will smooth out your swing and make it easier to square the clubface.

    I know what you're going to say: "But I'm supposed to shorten my followthrough to make a knockdown shot!" That's not quite true. You want your hands to reach the same height. What changes is that you don't let your wrists recock after you hit the ball; you try to hold the wrist position you had at contact. That recocking motion -- what we call the release -- adds height to the shot.

    So you want your hands to reach the same height at their finish that they had on the backswing, but you want the clubshaft and your arms to keep the same straight-line relationship at the finish that they had when you contacted the ball. Watch some of those videos, and you'll see that's what the pros (and Haney) are doing.

  2. October 9, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    You must have a camera out where I practice because everything you said is true. I can understand now why I was having the "pushes".

    I did find myself trying to swing harder while at the same time trying old off my follow through which messed up my tempo. I guess I was trying to stare the ball into the right direction instead of just swinging freely.

    Have you done an article on tempo yet? I'll have to go back into your archives. I have been trying to work on keeping a good tempo throughout my swing. It seems that tempo is very important for this type of shot.

    I know I get into a lot of trouble when I slow down too much in my backswing. I can feel the loop creeping back in sometimes. The good thing is that I can feel it and stop myself before I complete the swing. Kind of like Tiger does when he gets distracted.

    The wind has lessened but I still plan on practicing this shot. I'm sure will come in handy with those "in betweeners". Thanks for the advice again Mike. Great stuff!

  3. October 10, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    I don't remember if I've done a post on tempo or not, Dex. Thanks for the idea!

  4. October 10, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Can't wait to read it:-D