Hitting It High and Low
One thing is a certainty if you suck at golf, and that is that you WILL find yourself in trouble on many holes throughout your round. So it is important to understand the mechanics of hitting a variety of different shots so you don't have to keep chipping out sideways all the time.
HITTING IT LOW
Let's first talk about hitting it low. Hitting an intentional low shot can be helpful in many situations, like when you have wind in your face, or you need to stay under an obstacle like a branch of a tree.
To pull off this shot you need to make a few simple adjustments. Take an extra club and choke down about an inch or so. You're basically making a 7 iron into an 8 iron by choking down, and the 7 has less loft. The shaft length dictates the distance more so than the loft. So you're going to hit it about 8 iron distance but a 7 iron trajectory? Make sense?
Other Useful Tips To Keep It Down:
1. Move ball back in your stance about an inch or so. Don't overdo this or you may create MORE backspin and the ball may climb into the wind rather than ride under it.
2. Move hands a little further ahead of the ball from you normal address. This decreases loft a bit more as well.
3. Don't make the mistake of swinging harder because you're choking down. You have MORE club. If you swing harder you are likely to balloon the shot into the air, just what you don't want. Think SMOOTH. (not easy, but smooth)
Practice these at the range at least 4 or 5 swings every time you go.
HITTING IT HIGH
OK, here you are again, off the fairway and behind a tree. Only this time you're twenty yards behind it and if you can get the ball up really fast you may still have a shot at the green!
The nature of this shot implies that the normal club you would take to reach the green won't clear the tree. So you have to somehow hit your usual distance but get it higher, faster.
Here's how: Pick the club that you know you could reach the green with if the tree wasn't there. If the tree is WAY too high for that club then forget it and chip out or try bending the shot around the tree. However if you only need 20% or so more height than normal you may have a shot.
The key here is to get the maximum amount of loft and arc out of this club. So grip it all the way near the end.(maximum arc) Play the ball off your left heel, hands even with or slightly behind the ball.(maximum loft) Since a fade fly's higher than a draw, if there's room on the left then open up your stance a bit and play for a fade.
Take the club back low to the ground. Don't rush the downswing, but you will need to give it a little more "umph" than usual. You're trying to hit a 7 iron your usual distance but 20% higher. More height usually means less distance unless you hit it harder. So don't candy-ass this one. With the open stance and maximum loft of the club face the ball should climb fast and high with a long fade. It sounds tricky but is really not so bad. It's actually easier to hit it high than to keep it low for most players. These shots can be great round savers and do wonders for your confidence. However they can also cost you big if used recklessly.
So practice all these different shots every time you go to the range! You'll suck a lot less than the guy dripping with sweat from hitting his driver for the last hour. Think of it as the "practice range", not the "Driving range"!