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Pro Tip of the Week: Think Gravity when Approaching Uneven Lies

Most golfers have a hard time remembering what adjustments to make when they are out on the course and the ball is sitting on a hill. There are uphill lies, downhill lies, side hill lies with the ball below your feet, and side hill lies with the ball above your feet. One way to make sure you think about the things that will help you hit these shots is to consider what gravity is doing to your ability to make a normal pivot (body motion). One thing you should always do is to take a practice swing from the side of the ball so that you can get the feel for what you have facing you. Let’s go over each type of shot:

1. Uphill lie: for this shot your left foot will be higher than the right and gravity will be pulling you back towards your right foot. I always try to emphasize making sure my right foot stays braced in (a good idea for all shots, by the way) and that I concentrate extra on shifting my weight from right to left and finishing on my left side. I also like to move the ball a bit forward in my stance (which should be narrower than normal) so that I don’t stab the club into the hill. The ball will come out higher than usual so take an extra club (a six instead of a 7). Make sure to let your body tilt with the hill at address, but avoid putting too much weight toward the back foot.

2. Downhill lie: Here your left foot is lower than the right and gravity is pulling you toward your front foot. I like to move the ball a bit more back in my stance and I make sure that I load my weight into my right side in the backswing. During the swing I try to stay down with the hill to make solid contact, and I expect the ball to come out lower and to roll more when it hits the ground.

3. Side hill lie above the feet: When the ball is higher than your feet gravity will pull you toward your heels. Make sure to keep your weight centered or toward the balls of your feet. The swing will necessarily be flatter and when the club hits the ball the face will be tilted to the left, so it is a good idea to aim a bit to the right. Players have a tendency to stand too far from this shot so you might experiment with choking up slightly on the club.

4. Side hill lie below the feet: Nobody likes this lie. Gravity is pulling you toward your toes, so make sure you can still feel your heels on the ground. To get down to the level of the ball you have two choices: bend more from the waist or bend your knees more. I much prefer bending my knees extra and making sure I find the ground with my practice swing. This lie makes it difficult to clear the left hip in the forward swing so I concentrate on making a good effort to rotate in the downswing. The clubface will get to the ball slightly open so aim a bit to the left[edited].

One Response to Pro Tip of the Week: Think Gravity when Approaching Uneven Lies

  1. Chuck January 23, 2017 at 2:31 pm #

    Thanks, Wayne. This will come in handy in the springtime as I usually play a very hilly course. Is that last sentence right?

    “The clubface will get to the ball slightly open so aim a bit to the right.”

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