From 150 Yards Out

Knock it stiff on your approach shots—no matter what the lie

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Finding your perfect drive in a fairway divot is one of golf’s unluckiest breaks. When you find yourself in this situation, change your expectation. You may not be able to go for the pin, so accept a shot that hits somewhere on the green. If possible, play a low punch shot from this lie and let it run up to the green or land just on the front.

In golf, you never want to “scoop” the ball, but especially for this shot, you must hit down on it to escape the divot and get it airborne! To hit down on it, place the ball slightly back in your stance and your hands slightly ahead of the ball. You want your backswing to be a little more upright so you hit down on the ball. Make sure your wrists are relaxed so they hinge a little earlier in the backswing. Make a three-quarters swing and hit down on the shot. Expect a shorter follow-through, and as a result, a more descending blow.


Now and then you get a lie in the rough that sits up. Initially, it seems like it’s a pretty good lie—even better than a perfect lie in the fairway. Then you hit it, and it flies 20 yards over the green. What happened? Well, some grass between the ball and club negated the spin and caused it to fly farther than usual.

The first thing you have to do is be able to identify this “flier lie.” Typically, the grass blades grow in the direction you’re hitting the shot. To combat hitting it 20 yards past your target, take one less club. If you typically use an 8-iron, hit a 9-iron and so on. Second, move the ball slightly back in your stance from its normal position. If you make good contact, you’ll get the spin you need for the ball to travel the close to normal distance.

When the ball sits down in the rough, you need to make good contact. If you hit the tall grass first, it slows down the club, and the ball comes up short of the green. Since the ball is sitting down, you must hit down to make good clubface contact. That fires the ball out of the rough.

To make sure you hit the ball first, place the ball back slightly in your stance at address so your hands are slightly ahead of the ball. You want a slightly steeper downswing than normal, so feel your wrists hinge so the club points at the sky early in the swing. This will help you hit down on the ball. Really try to feel as though your left hand leads through impact. If you can keep your left hand ahead at impact, you’ll make good contact. Since the ball is sitting down, the grass will grab the club and slow it down, so expect your followthrough to be a little shorter than normal. Don’t try to force a full finish!


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