Kuchar’s Incredible Tree-Blocked Approach

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

Matt Kuchar’s lone FedEx Cup Playoff victory came in a playoff at the 2010 Barclays.

Facing a difficult lie in the left rough with a tree guarding against taking a direct line to the pin on the first playoff hole, Kuchar manufactured one of the signature shots of his career.

Pros and amateurs alike can learn from this fancy, shut-faced runner. SwingU instructor Aaron Ungvarsky explains.

The Setup

  • The weekend warrior is just like the pro in one regard: they are bound to find the rough during the round. When you do find yourself off the fairway, the first step is to analyze the lie.
  • Once you have taken the lie into account, see if the hole location and distance warrant a shot to the green or a punch out.
  • If the above factors give you a green light, go for it.
  • Playing a low shot out of the rough requires playing the ball back in our stance — usually two ball widths behind the normal position for the selected iron and setting our weight forward in our stance.
  • Next, choke up on the club to help lower the trajectory and lean the shaft forward so your hands are slightly ahead of the ball, also lowering the ball flight.
  • Finally, ensure that your body lines are 10-15 yards right of the target. This helps accentuate the path we want and also starts the ball in a direction that will avoid any trouble we working it around.

The Swing

  • We rely on the setup to keep it low and our swing to shape the shot when coming out of the rough. Since there will be grass interfering with the impact, we cannot count on the grooves and face alone to create the draw.
  • In watching Kuchar play the shot, notice how he keeps his right arm close to the body at the beginning of the backswing. This brings the club flatter and to the inside, resulting in a path that will be more in-to-out than normal.
  • As you start the club down and into impact, release the hands and allow the face to turn over. Feel like the top of your lead hand is turning down towards the ground as you swing out and down the line.
  • The last piece to pulling off this shot is a low finish position. Your arms and hands should wrap around your body below shoulder height to control the ball flight (low).