How to Hit Off of a Sidehill Lie

By Steve Silverman

golf bag sits near green

Under the best of circumstances, golf is a difficult game. If you are hitting the ball well off the tee and your shots land in the lushest part of the fairway, you are in good position to hit the ball consistently. But even when you have the perfect lie, it's not so simple. You can still send the ball into a bunker or a water hazard. Then there's the course itself. The terrain will force you to hit the ball when it's below your feet, above your feet, on a downhill slope and uphill as well.

How the Ball Below Your Feet

Hitting a golf ball when it is below your feet is an exercise in physics and swing adjustment for the golfer. It can be difficult to maintain your stance -- particularly when the ball is below your feet -- and that can lead to an awkward swing with poor results.

Difficulty: Moderate

  1. Bend your knees and hips more than usual when you address the ball on a sidehill lie.
  2. Try to keep your weight back on your feet as much as you can. You will be leaning out over the ball and most of your weight will tend to go out toward your toes, so force your weight back.
  3. Aim to the left of your target (for righthanders. Reverse for lefties). When the ball is below your feet your ball is going to veer off to the right at a relatively harsh angle. In order to compensate, aim left.
  4. You'll need to concentrate on holding your form and keeping your balance, so slow your swing significantly. When your ball is beneath your feet, you can take a relatively full swing, but your ability to stay balanced will affect your swing's velocity.
  5. Emphasize your follow-through when you are hitting a ball below your feet. If you don't finish the shot with your club at shoulder level, it will veer off to the right (for a right-handed golfer).

Tips & Warnings

  • Concentrate on form and not swing velocity when hitting a ball beneath your feet.

How the Ball Above Your Feet

  1. Use a less-lofted club than normal when playing an uphill lie. Choke down on the club so you can make a good swing at the ball without hitting the ground first. Uphill shots have a tendency to hook to the left for the right-handed golfer, so aim to the right.
  2. Keep your knees straight when the ball is above your feet. This seems like natural advice under the conditions, but many golfers instinctively bend their knees. You also must take more of a rounded swing in this situation. Slow it down and hit the ball squarely.
  3. Slow down your swing when you have an awkward lie that you are unfamiliar with. You are not going to be able to hit any of these shots if you speed up your swing. Take it slow and steady and let the club head do the work

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.