This week the PGA Tour is in Kapalua, Hawaii playing the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Kapalua is known for its severely sloped fairways which can create tough shots for even the best players in the world. I’ve pin pointed three secrets to have you conquering uneven lies; club selection, setup and swing thoughts.
The lie will dictate which club you’ll have to select. If you encounter an uphill lie, then select more club (i.e. 7 iron instead of 8 iron) because the uphill slope will add loft to the club naturally. The opposite is true for downhill lies, as less club is needed because the golf ball will have a tendency to shoot out low and run.
Club selection on a side hill lie may vary. If the ball is above your feet, the golf ball will generally shoot left (for right-hand golfers) and therefore travel further. However, since you may need to grip down on the club, the situation may call for the original club to be used. If the ball is below your feet, the ball will travel right (for right-hand golfers) and typically a shorter distance. However, since you may have to grip the club at the butt-end, the situation may call for the original club being used as well.
In regards to the setup, you’ll want to ensure that your shoulders and hips are even, or parallel, to the slope of the ground. You’ll want to do this because you’re trying to mimic and create a level lie. When properly setting up be sure NOT to fight gravity, brace yourself according to the lie. So, if you are on an uphill slope and your weight is 90% on your back foot, leave it there and don’t try to even your weight. Just adjust your hips and shoulders. Adjusting your weight can create more issues during your swing.
The biggest key to a successful shot here is to make a ¾ swing in an effort to keep your body as still as possible. Since you’re on an uneven lie, your instincts of balance will try to take over and any type of excess movement will cause a severe mishit or worse yet, a whiff. A good swing thought in this situation is to keep your head still!
Weight shift can become difficult when you encounter uneven lies. Since your setup may favor weight one way or the other, be sure to make an effort to finish with your weight on your front foot regardless of lie to ensure the greatest amount of energy transfer to the ball. Lastly, on the downswing and follow through, you’ll want to swing with the slope, once again trying to mimic a level lie.
- Club Selection – More club on an uphill (golf ball below your feet), less club on downhill (golf ball above your feet).
- Setup – Shoulders and hips even with the lie and grip down or up on the club.
- Swing Thoughts – Stay steady and swing with the slope.
Follow these three secrets tips and you’re bound to save a stroke or two! For more great instructional tips from our staff of PGA Professionals visit our instructional articles.