skip to Main Content
Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance - The State of Golf

Hitting Out of the Junk

How To Hit Out Of Trouble Without Ruining Your Round

Admit it, we’ve all been there. We’ve sliced or duck-hooked into the woods, or the place more affectionately known as “the junk.” We have all made the mental mistakes or poor shots that compound the misery of that first wayward shot – the mistakes that blow up holes and become a round-breaker. But you can save that round by making the right choices and handling the situation better. So, we asked two Minnesota pros for their tips on hitting out of the junk.

First Things First

Chris Foley of Cragun’s Legacy Courses in Brainerd and John Kendall from Giants Ridge in Biwabik emphatically agree with what should be the first order of business. “Number one you have to play the percentages and, in effect, take your medicine when you have to,” Foley says. “Your first priority is getting out of that situation.”

Kendall concurs:

“The first thing everybody needs to think about is accepting your losses and not trying to get too much out of the situation,” Kendall says. “The old adage is ‘don’t follow a bad shot with another bad shot,’ so if you are going to hit it in a bad spot and then try to hit a miracle shot that you saw some guy pull off over the weekend on television, chances are pretty high you’ll go from making a bogey to worse in a hurry.”

According to these two teaching pros, the key component to extricating yourself from a bad spot is your mental approach. Assess the situation, determine the best path back out to the fairway, and then choose the right club for the shot.

Keys To Contact

Contact on the ball, which isn’t always possible, is a key. But if it doesn’t appear that you can make good contact, then you should seriously consider an unplayable lie (which will cost you a penalty stroke, but allows you to drop your ball two club lengths away, no nearer the hole). Make sure, though, that you have a clear swing and a chance for contact.

“Sometimes there are situations where you can put a full clubface on the ball,” Kendall says. “The primary goal always should be to return it back to play where your next shot is not impacted by any thick rough or any condition that you find yourself in.

“It all depends on the lie and if you have a swing,” Kendall continues. “Either way, the goal should be you don’t want to be impaired on your next shot. Whatever you do – whether it is chipping it out sideways, or hitting it through the trees 150 yards down the fairway – make sure you are not having the same trouble for your next shot.”

Practice The Tough Stuff

Foley, who runs Chris Foley Golf Schools, takes it a step further with his students. He actually has them practicing the escape shots as part of their instruction. He still cautions them to always assess the situation and make good decisions, but then to be prepared for when they want to take the shot.

“One thing that I encourage people to do is practice the shot,” Foley says. “With my junior golfers – our range is kind of surrounded by trees – so we go in the woods and hit those shots. If you haven’t been in a situation before, the likelihood of pulling off that shot is pretty slim. You may get lucky once in a while, but to be in that situation where you’ve never hit that type of shot before, the percentage of pulling it off is smaller.

“Do you know how high a certain iron goes, the trajectory of it coming off the face? Are you going to be able to hit the ball under a branch or over trees? How do you get down to the golf ball when it is in a tight lie? You really need to practice those shots outside a round of golf to pull them off during a round.”

Every shot into “the junk” is different, and different situations call for different recovery shots. But there are some rules of thumb for every trouble shot:

  • Accept the situation and take your medicine—forego the hero shot.
  • Assess the situation and determine the best direction, club and swing to get the ball back in play.
  • Practice hitting those when you can; you never know when it will come in handy.

Remember those three concepts and your next trip into trouble won’t shipwreck your round.


Back To Top