Bad Lies

Make clean contact no matter how difficult your lie

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Back Of Stance

Hands Ahead
From The Pine Straw Or A Tight Lie

To advance the ball appropriately, you must hit the ball first! I can’t stress that enough if your ball is on pine straw or a hard surface.

To help you make ball-first contact, set up with the ball positioned slightly back of center in your stance, with your hands slightly ahead of the ball and your weight favoring your lead foot. Choke down about an inch and make a 3⁄4-length backswing. Add it up, and these adjustments will help you strike the ball first and the ground second. The shot might not fly as far or as high, but you’ll get a confidence boost from making clean contact.

Against The Fairway Collar

To make clean contact on this awkward lie, you have to adjust your setup and swing. If I addressed the ball with my normal setup and swing shape, I’d hit the fairway collar before the ball—and from there, the ball could go just about anywhere.



To compensate—and make cleaner contact—I stand closer to the ball. This makes me stand taller, which promotes a steeper swing plane, kind of like a Ferris wheel. Once again, the ball might not fly as far as normal, so take an extra club to be safe. Your mantra here should be “clean contact.” Don’t try to do too much.

Bonus Tip: Towel Drill

Here’s a great drill that’ll help you develop the feel for an earlier wrist hinge in your backswing and a steeper angle of attack in your downswing. (Both are key components for escaping divots, depressions, long rough, loose dirt and just about any other awkward lie.)



Place a rolled-up towel about 15 inches behind your ball, then make a backswing. If your clubhead hits the towel, you aren’t hinging your wrists early enough in the backswing. If you hit the towel on your downswing, you’re releasing your hands (and, hence, the clubhead) too soon. Either way, your angle of attack won’t be steep enough, and you’ll struggle to escape any awkward lie.

Practice this drill the next time you hit the range and don’t bump into the towel—on the backswing or the downswing.

Zachary Allen, PGA, teaches at DeBell Golf Course in Burbank, Calif. A former Mini-Tour player, Allen has won 20 worldwide titles.


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