Hey Ballinger Buddies. Do I dare say the unthinkable – that this past weekend’s weather was too hot? Don’t get me wrong. I would rather have 90 degrees than rain any day of the week.
Back to business. I got an email requesting some help with a particular situation that the player found difficult the last time he played golf. He played a course that had numerous and sometimes severe hills and elevation changes. Since we have an abundance of these situations locally, I thought that this would be a great subject to talk about.
The reality is that the tee box is generally the only place where a golfer will experience a true flat lie on a golf course. Basically there are four types of “off” lies: uphill, downhill, ball below your feet and ball above your feet.
There are a couple of items to mention that are critical in all non-level lies. They are to make a controlled swing, which usually involves selecting more club than usual and making your expectations a little more conservative. With an off lie, instead of aiming directly at the pin, a shot that comes to rest somewhere on or near the green would be a satisfactory result. Obviously, the more severe the off lie the more conservative the expectations.
Step one to any of these lies is to know what each lie will produce. Uphill lies can cause the ball to come up short and may have a tendency to go left (for right-handed golfers). Downhill lies also tend to cause the ball to come up short and the miss generally is to the right (all the misses discussed are from a right-handed golfer’s perspective). The ball that is below your feet will go right, and the ball that is above your feet will go left.
As stated above, the most important thing to remember is to always make a balanced, controlled swing and to take more club than usual. Doing this will give you the best chance to make solid contact.
At this point the rest of the adjustments are in the set-up. For all lies, you will want to create a solid base and this will include a slight widening of the stance and slightly more knee bend. Next is to get your spine more perpendicular to the slope. What does this mean? It means if you have an uphill lie, you will want to get your spine in a position where you feel like you are leaning toward your rear foot. If you have a lie where the ball is below your feet, you want to feel like you are leaning more on your toes.
The opposite applies for the downhill lie and when the ball is above your feet. Once you are set up correctly remind yourself to swing with the slope. Not all slopes are created equal. There will be varying degrees of slope and some will send the ball wildly in a particular direction or not have much influence.
It comes down to experience and following these suggestions is a great place to start. Also remember this: These suggestions apply to chips and pitches around the green, not just full swing shots.
Great questions! Continue to send your questions and comments to email@example.com.
Tyrone Hardy is co-owner of Hardy Golf LLC and director of golf at Ballinger Lake Golf Course. For more information go to www.ballingerlakegolf.com. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Ballinger Lake Golf on Facebook and Twitter.