How to play a downhill lie

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Golf Beginner Guide

When you stop to think about what area of your golf game you should work on you don’t often think about the different trouble shots. You spend time at the practice facility working on your full swing and you might spend some time on your putting. However you rarely think about uneven lies, flop shots, deep rough or punch shots.

I have put together some valuable information on two Trouble Shots that I know will play a big role in you lowering your handicap.

The Arc

You see the reason the ball going downhill lie is so difficult is because we swing the golf club on a arc. The arc has to have a bottom to it so you can find the bottom of the golf ball. When you address the golf ball on level ground the bottom of the golf club can swing up and down on the arc and return to the bottom of the golf ball, there is turf under the golf ball.

How to play a downhill lie

When you address a golf ball going downhill there isn’t any turf under the golf ball. The ground goes away from the ball. When you swing the golf club on arc and return to the golf ball the turf goes away from you. There isn’t any turf for the golf club to swing into.

You have to compensate so you can find the bottom of the ball.

Finding the Bottom of the Ball

The next problem is as big as the first one. You not only have to find the bottom of the golf ball, you have to make sure it goes up in the air.

There are four degrees of loft between all of my irons. If I am 150 yards from the green on a downhill slope of 8 degrees I am going to have a difficult time hitting the green with this shot. When I am standing 150 yards from the green I have to hit a shot that has enough loft so the ball will stop when it hits the green. I usually hit a 7 iron from 150 yards; in this case my 7 iron has the loft of my 5 iron. I have to drop down and take my 8 or 9 iron. Because the 8 and 9 irons are shorter than the 7 they will not perform like a 7.

When you have long downhill lies that won’t reach the green that usually isn’t a problem. Anytime you have a chip, pitch or full swing shot that can reach the green that is when the trouble begins.

So let’s spend some time with the technique of hitting a downhill shot. 

As soon as the golf club reaches the bottom of the arc it has to swing level along the ground before it can come back up. In other words the arc has to be longer than normal.

Stand to the Slope

How to play a downhill lie

The reason you have to stand to the slope is to make sure the golf club swings UP in the backswing and DOWN in the downswing. If the slope is severe enough you have to make sure you do not transfer any weight going back in the backswing.

Now comes the secret. You have to make sure at the bottom of the hit that you follow through LOW, follow through along the slope. You do not have to worry about finishing high. You have to keep the club head low to the ground so you can make solid impact and not top of scull the golf ball.

You might have the feeling of chasing the golf ball down the fairway. Two other items to remember when you are going downhill, the golf ball will not stop and you will have tendency to slice or push the golf ball to the right.