How to Recover When Your Golf Ball is in the Trees

Most golfers have a deathly fear of water hazards and sand traps, but a ball in the trees can present even bigger problems.

There are a number of ways to escape the woods depending on where your ball sits. Even with a clear swing and a path through the trees, discretion is the better part of valor. It’s usually best to take your medicine and use the least risky path back to safety

When tree-bound, always note overhanging branches between your golf ball and the target. Use a long-iron, mid-iron or even a hybrid to ensure a low enough shot to escape, play the ball slightly back in your stance, and swing with firm wrist to keep the golf ball down. On the other hand, going over limbs may be a better choice if you have a decent lie.

If you’ve gotten unlucky and find your ball beneath low-hanging limbs, assess your options. If the ball simply can’t be hit, take an unplayable lie following USGA rules.

If you can advance the ball, make sure you’re able to take a stance and swing without bending or breaking limbs or leaves. Removing obstacles from your swing path – as in breaking a branch on the backswing – carries a one-shot penalty.