Not too long ago, I discussed hitting shots from uphill and downhill lies. The adjustments are relatively straightforward.
How about sidehill lies? Same thing. The adjustments are straightforward when you understand what’s going on. With a little practice, you can get a grip on the likely outcome and handle those shots with no problem.
Ball Above Feet
The most important thing to remember when the ball is above your feet is that the orientation of the club (for a right hander) is now such that at address the club face is pointing left of the target.
Don’t believe me? Take out a short iron or wedge and hold it so the sole is flat on the ground, as if someone were addressing a ball. Point the club face square to a target.
Now rock the club so that the grip is closer to the ground and the sole of the club is no longer flat on the ground, but only the heel is still on the ground (as if the imaginary person is trying to address a ball above his feet).
Look at the club face. It is now pointed to the left of the target. It might help to hold something to the club face that will show where the club face is pointing, like an empty paper towel cardboard tube or a wooden dowel that you can hold flat on the face to act as a pointer.
That effect is more pronounced on clubs with more loft. So for a specific lie above your feet, a wedge will point further left than your 3-iron.
For that reason, and because you have to swing on a much flatter plane (more like a baseball hitter), a ball will tend to fly on a right to left path.
If you’re a slicer and want to get the feeling of drawing or hooking the ball, hit from a lie with the ball well above your feet. It’s hard not to get the ball moving right to left in that situation.
The basic adjustment for a ball above your feet is to allow for the ball to come out to the left.
Ball Below Feet
When the ball is below your feet, you do not get the opposite effect that you see with the ball above your feet where the club face points to the left. This is because to address the ball, you will tend to just bend down more, as opposed to having to rock the club one way or the other.
However, you will be forced to swing in a more upright plane. You won’t be able to make as aggressive a hip turn though impact and still maintain your balance.
So, for a ball below your feet, allow for the ball to move left to right.
Balance is key for hitting from uneven lies. The slope of the hill will tend to make you want to “fall” down the hill. With the ball above your feet, you’ll tend to sway back away from the ball and get your weight on your heels, and with the ball below your feet, you’ll tend to sway more over top of it and get your weight on your toes.
That’s why it’s important to maintain good balance in these situations. Take more club and swing within yourself, ensuring that you can avoid rocking your body during the swing. Otherwise, you’ll make poor contact and the ball will not do what you expect.
When hitting with the ball out of sidehill lies, here are the keys to remember:
- The ball will tend to move in the direction of the slope.
- Maintain your balance through the swing and don’t allow your weight to get out on your heels or toes. Take extra club if you need to, and make a smooth, balanced stroke.