How To Play Off Uphill and Downhill Lies in Golf

Updated January 3, 2023
Male golfer hitting from a downhill lie
    Male golfer hitting from a downhill lie
    Ryan McVay
    Getty Image license

Part of the challenge of navigating a golf course is knowing how to play from uphill and downhill lies. Failing to make the proper adjustments to your stance, club selection, and other factors, can quickly lead to higher scores. Thankfully, we have Tiger Woods' former instructor, Hank Haney, to teach you how adjust for uphill and downhill lies.

Playing From Uphill Lies

If you’re playing a hilly golf course, or perhaps a track located close to mountains, it's common to find yourself with an uphill lie. Depending on your distance, the shot could look daunting. Try these steps to conquer the uphill golf shot.

  • First and foremost, be sure you tilt your body with the slope of the hill, not against it.
  • Tilting your body with the slope adds loft to your club, so consider clubbing up (example: go from a 7 iron to a 6 iron).
  • Aim to the right of your target (for right-handed players). Your body won't rotate as much from an uphill lie as a level lie, causing these shots to tend to be pulled. Account for this by adjusting your aim.
  • Concentrate on making a full swing with your club going down the hill in your backswing and back up the hill as you go through.

If you find yourself with an uphill chip shot, the same ideas apply as the full-swing uphill shot. Just be sure to keep the ball in the middle of your stance or slightly forward to avoid de-lofting the club.


Hitting From Downhill Lies

For many amateur players, a downhill lie is significantly more difficult than an uphill lie. This is mainly because a downhill lie takes loft off of your club, making it more challenging to make clean contact and get the ball airborne. Here's how to navigate those tricky downhill lies.

  • Be sure you have enough club. Depending on the severity of the slope, this might be only one additional club.
  • Concentrate on getting the ball in play rather than trying for the hero shot.
  • Tilt your body with the slope so your shoulders, hips, knees and feet are parallel with the slope.
  • Aim to the left of your target (for right-handed players). Downhill shots tend to slice because it’s easier to open your clubface up.
  • Be sure to make a big turn and emphasize turning your body through the shot to help make a complete shot with good contact.

Once again, chipping rules for downhill lies are the same as a full-swing shot. Depending on how severe the hill is, chipping from a downhill lie may require you to adjust your aim a bit further.


Ups and Downs

You can run into uphill and downhill lies anywhere on the golf course from bunkers to the fairway. Knowing how to tackle these tough situations can keep you in play and on track for a solid round. Our best tip is to not wait until it's too late. Find yourself uphill and downhill slopes on the practice area to practice, so you’re ready when the time comes.