The difference between good and great players is that the good players produce good shots out of good lies and great players can produce equally good shots even from bad lies. To handle bad lies you need to make slight adjustments on the stance, posture, and sometimes even on the swing. Most amateurs try to hit the same yardage even from bad lies and very often fail to achieve the needed distance. Here are few examples of bad lies and the way to handle them.
Long grassy rough
If your ball is nestled in the long grass, the first option is to take bring it back on to the fairway. Long grass has the effect of closing the face of the club by decreasing its loft. For this reason, the player should use a more lofted club than if the ball were in the fairway. If a player has a long distance left, the first consideration should be getting the ball out of the rough. Use of lofted fairway woods #5, #6, #7 is advisable in this situation. The long grass will decrease the loft of these clubs and the ball will actually go the distance of the less lofted fairway woods. These types of shots are custom made for a wedge or a 9-iron. Remember, allow the loft of the club to lift the ball out of the rough!
Here are some suggestions for playing hilly lies.
Take a practice swing and note where the club is striking the ground. If the club is striking the ground nearer the back foot, move the ball back in your stance and vice versa. This system is the most accurate system to determine where the ball should be placed in the stance. Seldom does a player have a purely sidehill or uphill lie. This system takes all the factors into account as the practice swing is the fore-runner to the actual shot.
The general rule of thumb is to position the ball in the stance nearer the higher foot on the downhill lies, and about centre on the uphill lies. On sidehill lies, position the ball left centre. If the ball is above your feet on the sidehill lie, you will normally hit the ball straight or pull it to the left. If the ball is below your feet, most players will actually pull the ball to the left because their leg action will slow down as they try to maintain their balance.
The best system for determining which way the ball will travel for you on sidehill lies is to try 10 practice balls from each sidehill position and see what really happens.
How to Get Out of Trouble
So often we get into trouble and compound our difficulties by trying to play a miracle shot to get out. The best approach is to play the shot you know you can play, not the shot Arnold Palmer would be dubious about. When hitting over a tree, take one club extra. If you think you can clear the tree with a 7-iron, take an 8 or 9 iron. If you think a 5-iron will just stay under those branches, hit a 4 or 3 iron. This approach simply gives the player the benefit of the doubt and will take pressure off your shot. It also puts the percentages on your side. You need to practice your shorts before they become second to nature. When you are playing the course by yourself, place a ball in difficult lies and practice them using above techniques, your score is sure to come down.
(The author is a golf instructor and golf director at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu.
He can be contacted at email@example.com)