Uneven Lie Nemesis
By Erika Larkin on 8/21/13
Ever wonder why you can't hit well off of a certain uneven lie? From my experience teaching golfers, it's very common for someone to be predisposed to hit it poorly when faced with a lie that doesn't jive with their natural swing. It's also important to know how to adjust your swing temporarily to fit the lie.

Here are some examples of swing characteristics that make uneven lies challenging and how to better handle them:
  • The Lie: A downhill lie (ball below the feet) typically requires a steeper angle of attack. A golfer who has a very flat swing or has a tendency to stand up or chicken wing through impact would likely thin a shot from here.

    The Fix: widen your stance and bend your chest down more at address to help steepen your swing. Make sure your take the club back on a straight path to create a more vertical plane. Stay low with your body through impact by feeling like you exaggerate a sitting feeling. REACH your arms. There is lots of room since the ball is farther away, avoid bending your elbows at all costs through impact.

  • The Lie: An uphill lie (ball above the feet) is the nemesis of a golfer who has a very steep swing. This person will likely hit it fat.

    The Fix: narrow your stance and stand taller. Try and swing back flatter more like a baseball swing by working the club back slightly inside. Instead of swinging down, exaggerate the feeling of swinging out like you're going to hit it to right field(for a righty).

  • The Lie: A sidehill lie where your lead foot is higher is hard for someone who has a poor weight shift- they will have a tendency to fall back and top a shot. Someone who has a steep swing will likely hit fat into the hill behind the ball.

    The Fix: Make sure your match your shoulders to the angle of the hill so the back shoulder is lower and then try to maintain your balance through the swing to the finish exaggerating a move to your lead leg.

  • The Lie: A sidehill lie where your lead foot is lower is hard in general but really hard for someone who chicken wings through impact or someone who has a very flat swing.

    The Fix: bend your lead leg/knee so you actually put more weight on it and steepen your shoulder line to match the hill. Then allow your arms to really swing up on a vertical plane like you're lifting them immediately. Stay with the shot and try to follow the angle of the hill through impact. It should feel like you are reaching a little past the ball down the hill.
There is no question that uneven lies are uncomfortable to begin with and now I'm asking you to get out of your comfort zone even more and exaggerate certain things. But if saves you a few shots I know you will be happy you tried these tips and you might even learn something about your swing in the process!


Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine — and she's oobgolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, e-mail her at ErikaLarkin@pga.com. Enjoy!


[ comments ]
mjaber says:
The best advice I ever heard for uphill/downhill lies is "make your long leg short and your short leg long." It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me until I actually stepped up to the ball.
8/21/13
 
BAKE_DAWG40 says:
How come when I have the ball below or above my feet and I anticipate the ball flight (I'm a lefty), it almost always does the opposite? I hate that.
8/21/13
 
Matt McGee says:
My biggest problem with an uneven lie is having the ball above my feet and correctly anticipating the amount of lateral movement of the ball in flight.

On sidehill lies, it helps to narrow my stance when hitting uphill (forward foot higher) and widen my stance when hitting downhill (forward foot lower). That may just be another way of accomplishing the same thing Erika is suggesting as far as weight distribution.
8/21/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
Really good post Erika. Maybe part of the problem is the perception of certain lies as "uneven" or in some way deviant from the norm. As if the platonic ideal of a golf shot is one hit off a perfectly level lie. Well, I suppose there's tee shots which generally fit that bill. But in my experience, at least here in the Northeast, every course is full of these so-called "uneven" lies, so much so that playing off them in course of a round is the norm and to be expected. In other words, the more readily we can accept these "uneven" lies as an essential or ordinary feature of the game, the more we realize that this is a game of adaptation if nothing else, perhaps the better we can deal with them.
8/21/13
 
Matt McGee says:
Beef, at some of the courses I play, you'd have a hard time finding a flat spot on a tee box.
8/21/13
 
mmontisano says:
this doesn't mention anything about ball position. should the ball be more forward or backward than usual in any of these stances?
8/21/13
 
mmontisano says:
can the next post be about bunker shots with hard sand? most bunker tips are ones where the sand is fluffy, and a lot of courses i play don't have that. i'm always blading the $#!+ out of those and could use the help.
8/21/13
 
Matt McGee says:
Here you go, badcaddy:
In hard sand, as in a bunker where the sand has been mixed with dirt and then watered down, forming a "crust," try to pick the ball off of the surface of the sand. When it doesn't work, curse the greenskeeper for not doing a better job, then repeat the process in the bunker on the other side of the green, where your ball ended up.
8/22/13
 
mmontisano says:
well, at least I know I'm good at one of those. now excuse me while I play this next chip shot.
8/22/13
 
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