There weren’t many trees at Oakmont for the U.S. Open last week. 

There are plenty almost everywhere else and plenty of golfers find their ball under and behind them plenty of times. 

There is an escape that is not shot sacrificing punch out. It’s called the knockdown shot.

“There’s a few adjustments before you hit the shot and if you can do those, you can actually take an easier and smoother three quarter swing,” says Eagle Vale head pro Chris DeVincentis. “It actually makes (the knockdown shot) a lot easier.”

The expectations for this shot are still lessened. The point is to get the ball in a spot where making up and down for par is more likely.

Players should move the ball back in their stance with the ball aligned with the instep of the back foot. This will de-loft the club on impact.  

“Keep a little bit of an open stance,” DeVincentis says. “I’m gonna favor a little bit more weight on my front foot.  Choke down three quarters on the club.”

This isn’t a swing from your shoes shot. In fact, DeVincentis demonstrated a full strength swing and the ball went straight into the tree directly in front. 

“I’m looking for a three-quarter length backswing and follow through,” DeVincentis says.  “I just want to keep my hands ahead of the ball at impact, not behind.

“Three quarters power, is really important. The harder I hit it, the more spin I put on the ball and the more spin, the more the ball goes up in the air.” Which defeats the purpose of the shot.

It’s not the kind of shot you want to play with a 60-degree wedge, because of the risk for sticking the club in the ground. But almost every other club in the bag is usable. 

“Six iron, down, through your wedges you could use,” DeVincentis says. “As you start going lower than that, 3–4–5, you’re already de-lofting the club by moving it back and doing that is going to keep the ball so low, a lot of times you won’t event get it up in the air.”  

The shot can also be used from the fairway to keep the ball under the wind where DeVincentis says we can lose control. It can also be used as a safe way to escape a divot. 

“You get a chance to practice this, it’s not so bad,” DeVincentis says. “For people who haven’t tried it and are used to a higher ball flight, doing this they feel like it’s impossible. You’re gonna lower your expectations a little bit, but you can still get the ball on the green if you get decent at this.”

At least, it will get you out of trees without removing reasonable hope of making par.