Pitch Out Sideways Or Sling One Round The Tree? There Is Only One Winner... And I Can Teach You How To Do It!

Learn how to hit the ball from left to right when out of position with these expert tips from Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Ben Emerson...

Rory McIlroy and Ben Emerson playing left to right golf shots around trees on the golf course
Playing the ball from left to right around a tree is a high tariff shot, but one you should try to add to your arsenal...
(Image credit: Getty Images/Future)

Despite all of your practice and research of the best golf tips, it's almost inevitable that you will eventually hit the odd bad shot. When you do, it's rare you get a lucky break, and more likely you will find your ball tucked behind a tree or some other inconvenient obstacle.

Knowing how to shape the golf ball can really save your scorecard in this situation, especially if you don't have a direct line to the green and need a shot to get you out of trouble.

In this video and article, Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Ben Emerson talks us through his top tips for taking on this high tariff shot...

How To Hit The Golf Ball From Left To Right

In the video above, I find myself with a really challenging shot. I have just come off the fairway, and I have a tree in my line to the green directly ahead of me. With 140 yards to go, I need to hit a low left to right shot around the tree, or potentially play sensibly and pitch out sideways into the fairway.

You might be full of confidence, if you have been playing well to that point, and want to take this tough shot on. If that's the case, there are a few things you need to change in your set-up to hit this low fade.

Firstly, make sure that the ball position is back of centre, and that you address the ball with an open stance, way left of the tree. Make sure you clubface is aligned to the target you are aiming for, so in this case the pin, and trust your set-up.

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Ben Emerson setting up to hit a left to right shot around a tree

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

If you want to the ball to stay low in flight, you can't just hit a normal full shot. Instead, club up one or two clubs from your usual selection at that yardage, grip down the club slightly and use a more 'punchy' style swing that you can see me demonstrate in the video above.

You can also try to get your upper body over the shot a little more than normal, just to ensure the ball comes out low and you can squeeze it around the corner.

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Ben Emerson demonstrating a low grip on the golf club

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

One of the main faults I see with this type of shot is the hands get too active, which actually causes players to hit the ball left, so try to feel like you are holding the clubface open and take the hands out of play in the swing.

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Ben Emerson holding the clubface open through impact to hit a left to right golf shot

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

It goes without saying, if you don't feel confident with this shot you should pitch out sideways and play from the short stuff. A poorly executed 'slinger' round the tree could put you in more trouble, but pull it off and you could just save your score.

Ben Emerson
Top 50 Coach

Location: Sand Martins GC 


Ben’s modern approach to golf coaching has seen him become one of the most sought-after coaches in the country and teaches none other than Robbie Williams. His honest, modern and fun style of coaching has help thousands of golfers of all ages and abilities and he has been coaching for over 20 years.


Advice for practice:

Start with slow, small swings. If you can’t do it small and slowly there is not a hope in hell of doing it at full speed with a full swing! In other sports such as rugby or martial arts they slow learn new moves/plays before making them at full speed. 


Teaching philosophy: 

‘Why guess when you can access’ Ever new student goes through a full TPI movement screen, 3D motion capture and pressure plate analysis as well as TrackMan and 2D video analysis. Coaching is based on facts and not guess work. 


Most common problem:

A lack of clubface understanding and awareness. I get golfers to aim the clubface directly at the target and get them to make a slow swings and deliver the club to the ball with an open face, then repeat the same thing again but with a closed face, followed by one at the target. Giving them full awareness based on feelings errors to find a happy middle ground.