Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Become A Shotmaking Artist
From tee to green, all the plays every golfer needs
Ball Below Feet
Of all the uneven lies, the most challenging is the hanging lie. The first thing you need to know is how the ball is going to react. A good rule of thumb is that the ball tends to go in the direction of the slope. From a hanging lie, the ball will tend to drift to the right because the slope effectively increases your spine tilt, making your swing more upright, and when your swing is upright, it’s more difficult to square the face through the hitting area. The slope of the ground also makes the effective lie of the club flatter—another element that encourages a left-to-right ball flight. Start by using more club to account for the left-to-right shape that this shot generally produces and hold the club at the end of the handle. You’ll need the entire length of the club to swing down and through the ball. Widen your stance to shoulder width and increase your knee flex to bring you down to the ball. Align the clubface along the line on which you want the ball to start and then set your body perpendicularly to the clubface. Ball position should be normal.
An uphill lie increases the effective loft of the club you’re using, making the shot fly higher and shorter than normal. Start by taking one or possibly two more clubs than normal. Just as with the downhill shot, set up with your spine perpendicular to the slope and shoulders parallel to the ground. This will set more weight on your back foot. With your body arranged to match the slope, you’re prepared to swing down the slope going back and up the slope on the forwardswing. From an uphill lie, you’ll be fighting gravity on the forwardswing, making it harder to transfer your weight to your front foot. Play the ball where you would normally from a level lie and flare your left foot slightly to help your body unwind to the target and encourage weight transfer. It’s natural for your arms to swing a little faster than your body, closing the face of the club a little sooner than from a level lie. That means the ball tends to hook a little more, so take that into account when you’re aiming your clubface and body.
Set up with your spine perpendicular to the slope and shoulders parallel to the ground so you can swing up the slope on the backswing and down the slope on the forwardswing. The arrangement of your body will favor the creation of an upright swing and make it more difficult to square the face through the hitting area—that’s why a shot from a downhill lie tends to curve a little to the right. To help shallow the plane and encourage a swing that’s a little more around your body, drop your right foot back to close your stance slightly and match up the ball position to your stance by putting it about two inches back of normal.
The best advice I can give for a downhill shot is to swing down the slope. Some golfers respond to gravity and momentum by taking a step down the slope and toward the target after hitting the ball, and that’s okay. It’s an indication that you’re doing what you need to do—hitting the ball first and then the ground as you swing down the slope.
There’s no more useful—and spectacular—shot around the green than the flop shot. At least once or twice during a round of golf, you encounter conditions around the green that require a high, soft shot that stops quickly once it hits the green. Following are two ways to execute the flop shot, based on the condition of the lie, the overall distance and trajectory the shot requires, and the amount of green you have to work with.
The one-lever flop is easy to play and provides a good foundation for learning the standard flop because it uses the same setup and swing adjustments. It’s a shot used from close range and is great for popping the ball over the collar to a close-cut pin or when the green slopes away.
Use a sand or lob wedge and open the face significantly (open your stance until the face again lies perpendicularly to the target line). Use a light grip pressure and grip down one or two inches for control and stand closer to the ball, about the same distance you gripped down.
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