How to Hit a Golf Ball on a Bad Lie

By Bill Herrfeldt

golf ball on tee
What could be worse than hitting a perfect drive and you find that it has landed in a divot? Or maybe you have hit your tee shot into the rough, and you have found your ball sitting right in front of a big tuft of grass. Bad lies are part of the game, and you must learn how to deal with them. Here are a few ideas that may keep you from recording those dreadful crooked figures on your scorecard.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
  1. Grip the club further down the shaft because it is much easier to hit with a shorter club. Then position the ball farther back in your stance and consciously try to swing more upright to hit the ball with more of a descending blow. In fact, the deeper the ball is in the rough, the farther back your ball must be, and your swing must be ever more upright if you hope to hit that shot properly.
  2. Take one or two clubs more than the distance may warrant because you probably will not be able to hit a full shot. Rather, you will probably hit a punch shot that will not travel as far as a full shot. Also, you should not break your wrists, and you should finish your swing lower than normal.
  3. Before you begin your downswing, shift your hips to create greater club head speed when hitting the golf ball from a bad lie. And the more difficult the shot, the more you'll need to call on your abilities and strength to elevate the ball toward its target.
  4. Don't help the golf ball gain elevation by breaking your wrists to flip it from a bad lie, because you will lose club head speed, a major ingredient in sending it to the green.
  5. Choose a club with adequate loft to increase the odds of hitting the golf ball on the so-called "sweet spot." A club with too little loft will be impeded more by the grass as you move through the hitting area.
  6. Make changes in your setup if your golf ball lands in an area where that is not flat. For example, if you have an uphill lie, try moving your ball slightly forward and shift your weight as much as you can toward the target to help you stay balanced. However, if you have a downhill lie, place the ball toward the back of your stance, and keep your balance by limiting the amount of weight shift. Also, when hitting from a downhill lie, pick a more lofted club to give your ball more lift.
  7. Remember that side-hill lies tend to make the golf ball bend in the direction of the hill. If the golf ball is above your feet, move your hands down the shaft, stand nearer the ball with your weight on the balls of your feet and adjust the shot to accommodate the terrain. However, if you find your ball below your feet, exaggerate your knee bend to reduce the effect of your lie.

About the Author

Bill Herrfeldt specializes in finance, sports and the needs of retiring people, and has been published in the national edition of "Erickson Tribune," the "Washington Post" and the "Arizona Republic." He graduated from the University of Louisville.