UpHill Slope Golf

Uphill or Downhill Slope: How to Play from Uneven Lies

Golf isn’t a sport for someone who wants to start something easy. Between having to learn all types of different shots and play in all kinds of conditions, it is an incredibly challenging sport.

And to make it even more difficult is that you rarely hit it from a flat lie in the fairway. Yet, this is how so many of us practice on the range. But honestly, it’s just not realistic.

If you want to improve your game, you have to learn how to hit it from all types of different lies. At almost any course you will have lies that are going to challenge your game and you need to know how to adjust.

While it’s not always easy to practice these shot, as ranges are made to be flat, it’s important to know how to do it. Here’s what you need to know about every uneven lie so you can learn how to hit them flush.

How to Play from Uneven Lies

When it comes to uneven lies, you’re going to have four different types;

  • uphill
  • downhill
  • ball below your feet
  • ball above your feet

In any of these four lies, balance is the main key for hitting off uneven lies.

Each type of lie will usually make you change to a different club unlike a flat lie as the loft and clubface will change at impact Another important thing to note before hitting your shot is to know where the trouble is and play accordingly.

For example, if there’s water left and you’re on an uphill sidehill lie, with the ball above your feet, you need to aim plenty right. Instead of going for the green, think about laying up and see you can get out of the hole with the lowest score possible.

Here are the four types of lies you’re bound to encounter and how to hit it purely from each one of them.

Uphill Lie

Here’s a good rule of thumb to remember for uphill and downhill lies:

The ball should be closer to your higher foot and weight should favor your lower foot.

Depending on the severity of the slope, an uphill lie is usually an easier type of shot to hit from compared with the other three. The number one thing to remember with an uphill lie it to always take more club.

The incline in the slope will open the clubface so you’re going to add loft to a club and the shot will go higher. If you hit an 8-iron normally, you’ll want to usually go up at least one club to a 7-iron. The more slope, the more club you should take. Evaluating slope isn’t always easy so I recommend using a rangefinder to help with that.

Next, you want to make sure to adjust your aim as the ball tends to go left from uphill lies This is because your hands and arms are releasing up through impact which will cause the clubface to rotate closed.

Lastly, make sure to adjust your shoulders and ball position. At address, your shoulders should match the slope of the lie. You also want the ball slightly more forward in your stance to swing with the slope. Lastly, have more weight on your rear foot to help you swing up with the slope.

Downhill Slope Golf

Downhill Lies

Downhill lies aren’t nearly as fun as uphill lies as it’s a bit more awkward at address. The key these shots is to take less club than normal. With an uneven downhill lie, the slope will compress the club and actually deloft it at impact. This effectively turns an 8-iron into an 7-iron and making it travel farther with a lower trajectory.

The next thing you want to do with a downhill lie is to shift your weight so it’s slightly more on your front leg. This will help squeeze the shot and really hit down and through it. This goes with the general rule,

The ball should be closer to your higher foot and weight should favor your lower foot.

With a downhill lie, you want to aim left of the target as the ball will tend to leak right. This happens because you’re extending your arms down the slope and leaving the clubface open at impact.

Lastly, try to adjust your shoulders with the downslope. By adjusting your weight to your front foot and ball position, it should naturally try to match the slope. This will help make sure you don’t hit behind the golf ball and make clean contact.

Golf Ball Below Your Feet

Now that you know how to hit from an uphill and downhill lie, it’s important to know how to hit from sidehill lies as well. Since you can’t match your shoulders with the slope like an uphill or downhill, the main focus is making the necessary adjustments at address. You want to make sure the club is bottoming out at the right point.

The first example is if the golf ball is below your feet at address.

The most important thing you can do with this type of shot is to keep your knees flexed consistent throughout the entire swing.

It’s so easy to come out of these shots early and lose it way right if your knees aren’t remaining flexed.

Make sure to take more club too as the ball will tend to fade and lose distance in the process. As the ball is below you, it’s also important to not choke up on the club as you’re slightly farther away than normal.

Lastly, make sure to aim left as the ball will naturally shoot a bit right. And the more the ball is below your feet, the farther right it will go. These can be extremely frustrating depending on the slope so lower your expectations and don’t try anything crazy.

Golf Ball Above Your Feet

The last lie to worry about is when your ball is above your feet. This type of lie makes it easy to deloft the club and close the clubface and produce a draw or hook.

The biggest key to this lie to choke up at address.

The higher the ball is than you, the more you should choke up.

Also, you will want to take less club as the ball will draw or hook significantly depending on the distance you have to the green.

The goal is to try and make a flatter, baseball type swing that is more around than steep. And if you’re in the rough, this makes it even harder. Make sure to aim farther left as rough naturally closes the hosel at impact also making the ball shoot left.

Dealing With a Combination

Now that you know how to hit all four types of uneven lies, I’m sure you’ll find yourself get a few of the combination lies. For example, let’s say you find yourself on an uphill lie with the ball above your feet. Use a combination of the rules and make sure to aim plenty right as both lies make it go left hard. The more slope, the more the club will shut and take it left.

The same goes for a downhill lie with the ball the below your feet. Make sure you aim accordingly and adjust your setup at address. Otherwise, don’t try and make too many other adjustments. Make the adjustments before you hit so that way you don’t have to manipulate your swing for each lie.

How to Practice Uneven Lies

Uneven lies wouldn’t be as bad if golfers could just practice them on occasion but every range is a flat, fairway type setting. This makes practicing them nearly impossible. I recommend trying to practice on the course, not during peak hours or when you’re playing solo.

Another way to practice uneven lies it is to use the sides of the driving range if possible. While some clubs might not like it very much, it can help you imitate different uneven lies including rough.

Final Thoughts

If you want to take your game to the next level you need to learn these tips to adjust your shots for uneven lies. There’s no need to overcomplicate things by adjusting your swing too much. Instead, focus on identifying the type of lie and what the ball is likely to do.

Then you can take the necessary club, choke up, keep your knees flexed or whatever else to hit it pure. Changing your address position and choosing the right club is key. Don’t try to manipulate your swing or do too much with an extremely uneven lie. The goal is to try and create a feeling of a flat lie.

Always play away from trouble and try to practice these shots whenever you can. I hope these tips will help you hit it flush from uneven lies and make you look like a pro next time you’re out on the course.

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