Even the straightest of drivers sometimes hit tee shots offline. If you play a heavily wooded course you will often find yourself stuck behind a great oak and blocked out from the green. This article will help you improve your game out of the trees.
Before you even pull a club out of your bag, you need to swallow your pride and decide that you will not make more than a bogey. Many great rounds are ruined because a player tried to do a Seve Ballesteros impression and play a heroic banana-curve shot out of the trees. Take your medicine and get the ball back into the fairway. Don't compound a bad drive with an even worse shot that leaves you stuck in the trees. Remember, you can still get the ball down in two from the fairway and make par. You will not make par (not even a bogey) if you hit the ball against a tree trunk and it goes behind you.
If you have a straight path to the green, great. If not, calculate the shortest route back to the fairway. If you are pitching back onto the fairway, a 7 or 8-iron will usually suffice as it will allow you get the ball out of the rough without hitting it too high and catching an overhanging branch. Remember also that most shots coming out of the trees will be low and running so bunkers and water in front of the green will waiting to gobble up your ball.
Breaking the shaft of your iron or injuring your wrist can often happen when playing out of the trees because you can't see the roots under the ball. Many career ending injuries have occurred when golfers have tried to smash the ball out of the trees and have ended up with a snapped club and sore wrist. You can avoid this fate by taking a couple of steps behind your ball (be careful not to improve your lie) to feel for tree roots and also gauging whether you will hit a tree on your follow through.
Every golfer knows that the old saying of “branches are 90% air” is optimistic and we have all hit shots that caught a leaf or a branch on the way through the trees. Be smart and pitch the ball out to the fairway rather than trying to thread your ball through tiny gaps.