Uphill and Downhill Lies
If only every course offered nice, flat playing surfaces that provided perfect conditions upon which to concentrate on hitting the ball as sweetly as possible. That may be the dream of some, but where’s the fun in it? Once you have mastered the basics, you development is going to come from tackling greater challenges. And that list of challenges will include lies that are either up- or downhill. Each situation calls for strong nerve, good hands and a smooth playing action in order to achieve optimum results.
The basic challenge of either lie comes from the unnatural feeling of having to strike the ball while at an angle. It is all too easy to become a little disorientated and unbalanced – and that can lead to problems. So take as much time as you need before playing the shot, and that includes a number of practice swings that will allow your eye and body to become accustomed to the task.
Aim a Little More RightLet’s begin with the uphill lie, which for the right-hander must be executed with the left foot higher than the right. Because of this, more body weight will be on the right side and there will, therefore, be a tendency for the ball to fly off the club face further left than would be normal. To counter this problem, play the ball slightly forward of your usual position and aim a little more right. In terms of trajectory, it is likely the ball will fly higher than normal so be careful not to fall back slightly as the club descends from the backswing. The greater trajectory will mean the ball stops shorter than normal, too, so allow for this in terms of how hard you strike it. Ensure your feet are well grounded in order that good balance is maintained throughout the stroke. Remember that a smooth follow through will also contribute to how successfully you execute the swing.
Back in Your StanceFor right-handers, the downhill lie means that the left foot will be lower than the right, and the same, naturally, is true of the left shoulder. As a result the tendency will be for more of your body weight to be on the left side. Counteract this by moving the ball slightly back in your stance. It is also more likely that the ball will move to the right so, again, allow for this by aiming slightly left. After impact with the clubface, the ball will achieve little in the way of trajectory and is likely to fun further along the playing surface. Remember to allow for this in order to avoid too firm a contact and the danger that the ball may overrun the green and find rough or sand on the opposite side.
Both up- and downhill lies are part of the game, and success in tackling them comes with experience allied to plenty of practice. As you gain in confidence the degree of success you enjoy over them will increase. However, never take them for granted. Rather treat them with the respect that they deserve and you will return to the clubhouse with a sense of achievement and a very respectable score card.