To shave strokes from your golf handicap, you must learn to make adjustments to your swing and your game during a round. While making adjustments is the key to playing a good, solid round of golf, it’s more critical to adjust to some than others, such as those involving the different lies you face. Unfortunately, not all lies are equal. Some are good. Some are bad. And some are downright ugly. That means you need to adjust to some lies more than others.
Take a good lie. Most times, you’ll make only minor adjustments to your swing at most with a good lie. Since the ball sits up nicely, you can stick to the basic iron fundamentals. Just remember to hit down on the ball and to avoid the most common mistake we see in our golf lessons, swinging too hard. It throws your rhythm and tempo off. Instead, swing at about 80 percent, but gradually accelerate so you reach maximum club speed at impact.
Below we discuss three common, but “bad” lies and provide golf tips on how to play them.
Deep rough is tricky. You want to get the ball out of the rough and in play. The key, as we tell students in our golf instruction sessions, is to stand a little closer to the ball than normal. This forces you to swing on a more upright plane. Also, your head and hands should be higher than normal in the backswing. You should swing almost as though the shaft was going through your neck not your right bicep.
In addition to swinging upright, hinge your wrists earlier in the swing. Hinging early helps you avoid hitting too much grass behind the ball. Also, grip the club more firmly than normal to offset the grass, use a club with more loft than normal if you have to, and shorten your swing to stay balanced. It’s hard to hit down on the ball in deep rough. So expect your ball to come out more on a line.
With this lie, the ball sits up in the grass, but still has some grass behind it. This means the ball will launch higher and with little spin. It will probably fly farther than normal as well. You find flier lies in intermediate rough cuts or in thick, fluffy grass. Flier lies encourage you to hit more of a draw, so adjust your aim accordingly. You may also want to use less club, since the ball will roll when it lands.
The key with flier lies, we tell players in our golf lessons, is to move away from the ball a little. This helps you sweep the ball off the ground. Since this is somewhat of an easier lie to hit from, you can get lazy rotating through impact. Make sure you rotate fully. Also, choke down about two inches on the club. Choking down prevents you from hitting un-derneath the ball. It also quiets your hands. Finish with your belt buckle facing the target and your weight on your front leg.
Ball Above Feet
It’s easier to hit a ball above your feet than below your feet. But it’s still tricky. Flatter swings work better with balls above your feet. The key is to stand slightly taller, which lets you swing with a more rounded, flatter motion. Standing taller means you’ll also have a slightly more erect spine angle, so make sure you retain some of your knee flex. (With a ball below your feet, you want to squat lower to the ground.)
With the ball above your feet, envision swinging the clubhead around your body and fi-nishing with your turn and release in a lateral position. You also want to finish with an extended right arm, a sign that you didn’t try to hold the clubface open through the swing. Shorten your swing a bit, and focus on making solid contact. Be careful not to hit the club’s toe on the ground.
These golf tips should help you hit more solid irons. Hitting the green is not as much of a priority with bad lies as with good lies. With bad lies, it’s safer—and better— sometimes just to get it close to the green. From there, a chip and a putt will earn you a par. Make more pars with solid irons shots and you’ll cut your golf handicap.