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Severe downhill lie to a distant uphill target

Posted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:52 am
by DougE
For me, one of the toughest lies in the game. I'm not talking about a lie where your front foot is a couple inches lower than your rear foot. I mean a lie where your front foot is 8-12 inches, or more, below your back foot, like on the front side of a steep mogul. I feel this shot is nearly impossible to get a satisfactory result.

It's one thing to have this shot, where the target is in front of you at a level below or even at the same height as your position, but when the target is way above your position, I'm not sure how you have a real chance with a mid-long iron or a fw. When it is that steep, no matter what club is in your hands, you will be delofting it further at impact, particularly because you will HAVE TO play the ball back a bit in your stance. Adding loft by opening the clubface might help, but when you have a 150-200 yard shot, you can't afford to lose any distance. If there is no trouble in front of you, then sure, just get as much distance as you can, using the most lofted iron you want. But, in the case I am specifically thinking of, when you have to fly over a valley of wetlands that is 120 yards wide before a safe landing area. you need to get the ball out there. Basically you are hitting down a steep hill, yet trying to make the ball go high enough and far enough to not only clear the wetlands, but get you close, if not on the green 160-170 yards away. I hate that shot and have tried everything to make a good one when I am unlucky enough to land in that position.

No matter what, the ball is going to come out very low. It's also typically going to go right. I can live with it going right and play for that. But coming out low when I have to go high, just doesn't work for me.

My set up is: shoulders aligned with slope, weight forward (it almost has to be when that steep), ball back a bit (which promotes a lower flight in general, but from that steep of a lie, the alternative is to almost surely get it fat with the ball in a more forward position.) On a long shot, I just don't know what else I can do. Anybody really proficient at this lie for long distances? I have no problem with this lie for short distances or particularly, flop shots. But rarely do you have to go uphill from a steep downhill lie. Around the green you are typically going downhill from a steep downhill lie and a flop shot works just fine. But long uphill from a severe downhill lie, I just don't have a good answer. (The key word here is "severe" downhill lie.)

As you might guess, I had this shot again yesterday. It baffles me. I did everything right (that I know of), with a less than satisfactory result. After hitting my shot, I dropped a few more balls trying to find a solution. I closed the clubface, I opened the clubface, I swung smoother, I swung down the slope at a spot 6 inches in front of my ball, I tried everything I know. Nothing worked. I was hitting a 6i, though I needed a 5i for the distance I had, but wanted the extra loft to make sure I got it high enough off the ground to clear the hazard below me. I am going to MAKE my club pro show me that it's possible to hit that shot from that lie and get it to the green, or at the very least to a playable area in front of the green. I honestly don't believe he can do it either. The situation is unique, but on the 12th hole at my course, not so much. Worst thing is I hit a great drive off that tee yesterday, unfortunately, further than I thought possible, leaving me with that awkward steep downhill lie in the rough.

Re: Severe downhill lie to a distant uphill target

Posted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:00 am
by bkuehn1952
DougE wrote:For me, one of the toughest lies in the game. I'm not talking about a lie where your front foot is a couple inches lower than your rear foot. I mean a lie where your front foot is 8-12 inches, or more, below your back foot, like on the front side of a steep mogul. I feel this shot is nearly impossible to get a satisfactory result.


Totally agree. Our hole is #5 at Leslie Park. I have had a few shots stop on the downslope and there is no way to elevate the shot without hitting a wedge and ending up very short of the green. The only way to hit the shot is to be able to hit a wedge 150 yards, a shot I lack.

Re: Severe downhill lie to a distant uphill target

Posted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:24 pm
by DougE
Spoke to my club pro today about the above scenario. Basically, he said, the situation I describe is virtually impossible from which to hit a long quality shot over the hazard and up to the high green. He offered an idea though, which I might try next time I get in that situation. Rather than try to hit the ball from the extreme downhill lie, aiming at the green, he thought the play might be to set up to the ball with your back (as a righty) somewhat facing the green, which would then make the ball well above your feet, a natural hook lie. That high above your feet can be an extreme hook lie. Then make an exaggerated hook swing, which should hook the ball even further left, maybe even towards the green if you're lucky. It might just work. I will be sure to practice that shot, from that position next time I'm out there.

Ironically, I had a similar shot yesterday in the same round. I had hit my drive left of a fairway bunker leaving me only a PW to the pin. However, the lie was on the side of a steep hill, which when I addressed it, found the ball to be literally above my belt buckle. I knew it would go left so I aimed well right of the green. As I swung through, I tried my best to hit it out away from me. Even so, the ball hooked hard, 10 yards left of the green. I was trying my damnedest for that NOT to happen. So, if I was actually trying to hook it, I can only imagine how far I could have moved it left. I now have some confidence that this shot might work in the original scenario.

Re: Severe downhill lie to a distant uphill target

Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:56 pm
by legitimatebeef
This thread makes me want to play some golf! It sounds like a fun game.

Re: Severe downhill lie to a distant uphill target

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:16 pm
by bryan k
Interestingly, I've never been able to accomplish a draw (or hook) when my feet are below the ball just as I've never been able to accomplish a fade (or slice) when my feet are above the ball.

Additionally, my draws (or hooks) always (and I mean always) have a low trajectory with lots of roll, so I'm not sure that this approach would work.

I grew up golfing in Fargo, North Dakota where the highest hills are the man-made overpasses. There are no elevation changes on Fargo golf courses. As a result, I struggle with any uneven lie, but I will submit that the downhill lie gives me the most fits. How do I usually play them? I pull out a long club and punch it forward, trying to find a flat spot. I would not go for the green in the situation that Doug described.

Re: Severe downhill lie to a distant uphill target

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:57 am
by jasonfish11
bryan k wrote:I've never been able to accomplish a fade (or slice) when my feet are above the ball.



Actually that is one of the big misconceptions of the golf swing. The ball below your feet generally doesn't cause the ball to fade more than your normal swing. It's easier to explain the physics with a visual but I'll do my best.

First why the ball above your feet draws, well other than you. Let's assume that the lie angle of the club is the angle between the shaft and your feet assuming the shaft continues all the way down where your feet are. With the ball above your feet most people flatten that angle kind of like hitting a baseball. But since the real lie angle of the club is static the club face is extremely toe up. This essentially takes some of the clubs loft and points it left. This cause a pull or pull draw for most people, and a pull hook for people who are really worried about drawing it but don't understand the above. I've seen and heard numerous people come back to the cart after hooking one off the planet saying "man I knew it would go left so I tried to swing to the right.". My reaction in my head is congrats you made it hook worse. If you really want to hit a straight ball from above your feet, you have to aim right and make a massive slice swing like way over the top and to the left. Personally I can't do it well but that is how the physics work. So if you generally don't draw it off this lie I'd guess your normal ball flight is a fade?

Now when the ball is below most people's feet, they don't steepen the fake lie angle I described earlier. They just bend more at the waist or knees to get the club down to the ball. So the real lie angle and club face positioning doesn't change.

On a side note I hate down hill lies. But luckily I practice them regularly due to the way the range is and the fact I'm the only person there many mornings.

Re: Severe downhill lie to a distant uphill target

Posted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:18 pm
by bryan k
Thanks for the analysis, Mr. Fish.

When the ball is above my feet, I usually choke up and take a normal swing. The drawback of this approach is that, since the toe of the club has a tendency to get stuck in the turf, I actually have more of a tendency to push the ball with this scenario than I do to pull the ball.

This is something I learned when I was in high school, and it's not typically something you can practice on the driving range. My instructor back then always told me to try to keep my swing level at all times. In my opinion, this approach is better for a player like me who is trying to minimize mistakes. For someone who has the ability to make consistent contact even with crappy lies, it probably makes more sense to play a draw in this situation. I've honestly never tried it.

My natural ball flight, for what it's worth, is all over the place. Over the course of the round, I typically work the ball back and forth as I try to fine tune my wrist angle at take away.