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How to play awkward lies

The idea behind this is to try to make sure we are making the best attempt to play the shots correctly and give ourselves the best chance of making good contact on the ball.

Section 1 – Fairway bunkers

The most important part before making club selection is to firstly look at the lie and the height of the lip of the bunker:

  1. Select a club in your opinion that will comfortable clear the lip

  2. Take your stance without digging your feet in

  3. Grip down the club by 1 to 2 inches

  4. Grip the club more tightly to contract the muscles (shorten the arc)

  5. Swing the same as normally and hold a full balanced finish

Lee Andrews showing the stance, posture and ball position when hitting a golf ball on an uphill lie

Section 2 – Sloping lies

There are 4 types of slope – uphill lie, ball above feet, ball below feet and downhill lie. Below I explain how to how set up to each slope - check out the photos to the right - they're in the same order from top down:

  • Uphill lie
    • Weight is forced onto the lower foot with the ball position favouring the higher foot – as the weight is on the back foot it is important to drive into a full finish position with the weight rotating over the front foot (posing finish). We all did not mind this lie! The ball will fly higher and you may wish to take one more club.

  • Ball above feet
    • Very easy, grip down the club and then swing the same. The majority don’t mind this shot but the ball is likely to be pulled left as the club face will point slightly this way. Club selection can remain the same.

  • Ball below feet
    • This one catches most of us out! Bend more over from the waist (more spine angle) and not the knees. We will be restricted in our movement because of this. Balance and rotation is hard through impact so balance maybe lost. Maintain your spine angle and aim slightly left as the ball will move from left to right. Club selection can remain the same.

  • Downhill lie
    • The most difficult shot to stay with and get good contact. Once again the weight on the lower foot and the ball position towards the higher foot to help the strike – this in turn will make the shoulders follow the contour of the slope – stay down on the shot for as long as possible and you may lose your balance forwards after impact. As the ball will fly low take a club with more loft to improve contact (it will fly lower and longer!)

Lee Andrews showing the stance, posture and ball position when hitting a golf ball that is above your feet

Section 3 – The Rough

  • The importance of this shot is dependent on the lie and what the format of the event is.

  • Make sure you look at the outcome and assess your options before playing the shot

  • You can take relief

  • If it is matchplay – play safe and keep your opponent under pressure

  • You are allowed to play backwards, sidewards or take a penalty drop

  • If we are attempting the stroke – you must always take a club with enough loft, grip slightly tighter and follow through until the rough stops us – do not decelerate before!

Any questions?

I hope all the above makes sense and if you have any questions please feel free to contact myself on or 01273 846567 option 1.

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