Seven foolproof escape shots that will help get you out of trouble on the golf course and eliminate running up a horror-score
Escape shots hold your round together. Yes, booming drives and towering iron shots usually get the credit for a good score; but it’s your ability to recover from trouble that keeps those card-ruining big numbers at bay.
If you can escape well, you will score well. The seven escape plans detailed here take you from thick greenside rough to sweeping draws round trees, and offer simple set-up and swing cues for each. But above all, they’ll give you the know-how to limit the damage the next time one of those booming drives or towering irons doesn’t quite go to plan.
Escape Plan #1: The one-handed chip
Jon Rahm used his one-handed skills during the final round of the PGA Championship, and now you can too. It’s actually a lot easier than it looks! Follow these simple steps to master the one handed chip, and get yourself out of more trouble when you’re stuck against trees. Read the full escape plan here
Stand with your back to the target: Aim the face at the hole and grip with your trail hand only. This method lets you make the armswing your shoulder socket was designed for – forwards and back, past your side.
Sound footing: The key to this shot is staying as still as possible during the swing. Make sure you feel balanced, weight down through the centre of both feet, before executing the stroke.
Natural pivot: Play the ball opposite the toe-cap of your shoes, with the ball as close to your toe as possible. This helps you work the shoulder in a more comfortable back-through path. Use your shoulder’s natural pivot to take the club back, again keeping wrist action out of the shot.
Strike down and through: Let your arm swing naturally back behind you, catching the ball on its way past your side. That ball position sets up a slight downward attack that helps you make clean contact with the ball. Control is more important than force, so don’t try to hit the ball too hard
Escape plan #2: Get out of the greenside rough
In an ideal world we would always miss the green on the side opposite to where the pin is cut, giving us room to run the recovery shot up to the pin. But golf being golf, we can find ourselves short-sided, and often with the ball nestling in rough.
The shot presents a problem because you need speed to get the club through the long grass, but not distance as the pin is close to you. The solution is to use your set-up to create quick height, and develop a brisk, ‘popping’ rhythm to your attack. Remember these two keys below and read the full escape plan here
Pin sharp: The closer the pin is to you, the more loft you must use to create a higher ight that stops the ball more quickly. But beware opening the face in thick rough as the club can go under the ball.
Dry run: When your ball is in thick, tangly rough, make a few practice swings in similar grass to get a feel of how much it will grab the club. Keep away from the ball in case impact moves it
Escape Plan #3: How to draw it around an obstacle
With some 85% of club golfers playing with some sort of cut, the need to draw the ball around a tree or other obstacle (right-to-left curve for right-handers) is an often uncomfortable option. But with some key set-up changes and a stronger concept of how to apply draw spin, this becomes a very playable shot. Remember these two keys below and then read the full escape plan here.
Keep a straight club face: Both draw and fade spin are easier to apply when you use a straighter-faced club. So use a stronger club, for example a 6-iron instead of a 7-iron, and prioritise control over power
Understand the draw: The draw’s main ingredient is that the swing path must be from in-to-out, relative to face aim. A successful shot relies on a careful aim of the face, then ensuring you deliver the club from the inside.
Escape Plan #4: How to hit under a low branch
In this scenario we need the ball to come out low. Keeping the ball down is all about using your set-up and delivery of the club to keep loft off the clubface, but it’s also vital to grasp one simple rule – the harder you hit the ball, the higher it wants to climb. So make these changes in the context of a shorter, quieter action that keeps aggression out of your strike. Read the full escape plan here
Deflot the club in your set-up: Play the ball back of centre in a narrow stance to encourage a delofting, downward strike. Check the back of your trail hand is over the front of the ball and anchor yourself with extra weight on your lead side.
Keep your backswing short: Swing back till your lead arm is no further than horizontal. This shorter action promotes the softer strike that keeps spin and launch out of the shot. The narrow stance encourages a steeper arc and a downward strike.
Butt past pocket at impact: We’ve set the swing up to keep the handle ahead of the clubhead throughout the swing, keeping loft off the face. But as a helping swing thought, feel yourself moving the butt forward, past your lead pocket.
Cut it off in your follow through: Keep your through-swing controlled, hands nishing no higher than your chin. This thought works as a safety net against your hands and wrists releasing the club aggressively, which adds face loft and raises launch.
Escape Plan #5: What to do on a greenside downslope
It’s very easy for an of ine approach to get caught up on a grassy bank, leaving an awkward downhill lie for your recovery. In this situation, your lead foot much lower than your trail, you become hyper-aware the ball will shoot out forwards instead of up and your instinct tells you to create more loft. Follow these four steps and read the full escape plan here.
Club selector: The downslope will deloft the club, so take more loft than normal. You can open the face to add loft, but as with the greenside chip, beware as the club can slide right under the ball.
Go with the slope on set-up: Use your set-up to create an action that works with the slope. Set your spine at right angles to the gradient to permit the same attack angle you’d have if you were upright on a level lie. Widen your stance to aid balance.
More rounded backswing: On this shot we need the clubhead to work down the slope. That’s best achieved from an action that moves the club around your body, creating a shallower arc. So let upper body rotation dominate your action, its bigger contribution calming wrist hinge and creating a more rotary feel to your movement.
Hit down the slope on throughswing: Avoid any temptation to help the ball up. Instead, maintain that feeling of your core rotation dominating your motion and turning throughout the shot. At the nish your chest should face both the clubhead and your target. This shallow pass at the ball sees you come in shallower and work the club down the slope, key to an effective strike from this lie.
Escape Plan #6: Get out of a tricky upslope lie in a steep-faced bunker
If you’re unfortunate enough to wind up under the lip of a deep bunker, your rst job is to devise a realistic game plan. Depending on the lie and the lip, you may not be able to reach the flag… or even go directly at it.
Remember, in these situations your priority is always to get the ball out; don’t let ambition cloud that goal. Having selected your shot, use these tips to get the right contact – and ensure you escape.
As with most golf shots, the way you address the ball is key to its success. On any slope you are looking to angle your spine to offset its effect; on any steep upslope, this means creating a fairy severe lean away from the target to play the shot. From here, it’s all about presenting maximum clubface loft to the sand and ball. Remember this key tip below and read the rest of the escape plan here.
Do the back shoe shuffle: On a steep upslope your trail foot supports your action. Shuffle it into the sand until you are con dent of a secure base. Don’t take the club away until you feel you can.
Escape Plan #7: How to pitch from a bare lie
Finding a decent strike off a bare lie is all about creating the perfect angle of attack. Too steep and you present your wedge’s sharper, leading edge to the ground, and with a very clean lie any contact before the ball result in a duff.
But too shallow and the back edge of the sole skips off the hard ground, causing a bladed thin. Use this steep-to-shallow technique that eliminates the bounce thin, while letting you use the forgiving nature of sole bounce to skid the club under the ball. Here’s how the shot works. Remember this key below and click here for the full escape plan.
Add loft to help commit to the shot: A bare lie is unforgiving, and any hesitancy in your action will be punished. Opening the face to weaken the loft is a neat way to help ensure you stay aggressive and purposeful through impact.