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Answer How Should I Play Downwind Shots

There can be no doubt that smashing shots downwind is better than struggling into a howling gale, however, downwind shots do present their own challenges.

When hitting shots downwind, the ball will travel further as the breeze pushes it through the air. As this happens, any back spin imparted at impact will be reduced. This is why downwind drives will fly further through the air but also run more once they pitch on the fairway. When driving, this is a bonus but when hitting iron shots into a green it can be detrimental. If you are hitting a 9 iron into the green, for example, the ball will travel further through the air but also roll more once it lands. On a still day or into wind the opposite will happen.

Club selection is very important and judging the amount of wind is essential. Players need to take into account the extra distance the ball will travel through the air but also the extra roll which will occur once the ball lands. This can be problematic on short iron approaches when the flag is tucked behind a hazard at the front of the green.

Hitting shots downwind will not only decrease back spin but also side spin. Again this is good news for players who hit slices or hooks but needs to be taken into consideration by people deliberately shaping the ball. If, for example, you normally hit a 10 yard draw through the air, this could be reduced to nothing depending on the strength of the wind. Always take this into consideration and look to hit the ball straighter than usual.
When hitting shots downwind, take advantage and get the ball airborne, but take care over club selection and try to envisage how the ball will react once it lands.

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Clubs with lower lofts will fly slightly further through the air but will be more effected by the reduction in back spin. Hitting a 4 iron into a tight green will become difficult as it will release much more when it lands. Golfers in this situation should look to drop down a club and hit it higher to get the most benefit they can from the wind.

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When hitting shots downwind, try to play as normal but take time over club selection. Unless the wind is literally gale force, then lifting the ball into the air is normally of benefit. Trying to hit the ball softly downwind will not increase the amount of control you have over the ball.

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Hitting punch shots downwind will increase the likelihood of hitting a low ball flight but would almost certainly take away back spin from the ball. A low drilling stinger from the tee would run along the ground for a long time but so would an approach shot into the green.