Playing tip from a pro: how to hit downhill, uphill and side hill lies

Lies, lies, and more lies. I’m not talking about the excuses you have to make in order to get to the golf course. I’m talking about those potentially troublesome, awkward angles you’ll face once your round has started. As with any golf shot, your results will get better based on the amount of practice you put in, but you need a foundation, a basis for these shots. Once you’ve practiced the basics, your confidence will grow, and in no time, you’ll be shaving quite a few strokes off your score. The only problem with practicing uneven lies is that it typically takes place on the course, because driving ranges usually only have flat practice areas.

I’ll break down four common awkward lies and provide you with tips for overcoming them, but here are tips to remember for all downhill, side hill and uphill lies:

Uneven lies
• Get wide – have a wider stance to maintain balance.
• Lean – no matter what the slope is, you want to lean into it.
• Take it easy – do not swing 100 percent, try 75 percent.
• Shoulders match slope – keep your shoulders as parallel to the slope as possible, think about a basketball player squaring his shoulders to the target no matter what angle of his jump shot.

Downhill
• Take less club than you normally would, usually one club difference.
• Aim to the left of your target because the ball naturally tends to go right on a downslope.
• Strive for a three-quarter backswing, because the main idea here is to make solid contact, not hit the ball as far as possible.

Uphill
• Basically the opposite of a downhill lie, you want to take one more club.
• Aim to the right of your target because the ball tends to go left.

Ball above your feet
• Stand more upright and grip down on the club a bit.
• Aim to the right because the ball tends to go left.

Ball below your feet
• Bend your knees a bit more than usual and squat down into the hill a bit.
• Aim to the left because the ball tends to go left.
• Stay down and through the ball through impact.

These four uneven lies become a lot less daunting once you have a plan in place on how to attack them. Instead of dreading these lies as you approach your ball, you will begin to have that feeling that you know something your playing partner doesn’t. Playing difficult lies well can even help your confidence in other areas of your game, giving you the feeling that there’s no shot you cannot hit. In terms of the lies you have to tell to get to the course, you’re on your own there!

(posted 7/24/14)