Coping with sidehill lies

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Published 12/04/2010 08:01:46
 

Golf course architects have always employed changes in elevation to define and defend their courses. Playing uphill, over a hill or down towards your target makes judging distances more problematic.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect to an undulating layout is the prospect of playing from a sidehill lie. To master this art you need to understand how your lie can affect your strike and swing path and how to allow for the resulting ball flight.

 

Ball below feet stance

Make one simple alteration to your address position. Your posture will determine the quality of your strike, so, to ensure that it is a clean one, bend your upper body over the ball slightly more than usual.

It is important here that you bend your upper body from the hips and that your back remains straight and your knees flexed. At first such a position may feel alien, but by altering your posture you can make a normal swing and expect a sweet strike.

 

Ball above feet stance

The opposite laws apply when the ball sits above your feet. Feel as if you are standing more upright than usual at address, ensuring that your knees remain flexed and your back is straight.

In both of these side-slope instances the posture that you set at address should not alter before you have struck the ball, because this will have a detrimental affect on your swing path and strike.

 

Swing paths and ball flights

Whenever you play from a slope your swing path is automatically affected. Because your body is set at a greater angle at address (to maximise your chances of a clean contact), the path of your swing will change, causing the ball to slide sideways through the air. Do not fight this ship but allow for it and you should still be able to hit your target.

 

Ball below feet

When the ball is below your feet, your swing will be more upright than usual, creating left-to-right spin at impact. It is, therefore, imperative to aim to the left and allow for a gentle fade to bring the ball back to its intended target.

 

Ball above feet

When the ball is above your feet, your swing will inevitably become flatter, resembling a tennis player's topspin forehand. This will cause right-to-left sidespin at impact that moves the ball left through the air. In this situation, aim to the right of your target to compensate for this flight.




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