Struggling with what I like to call those hill rides — shots that aren’t struck from a flat lie? Let’s take a look at how to pull off those downhill and uphill shots with just a few adjustments.
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.
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. Set your shoulders parallel to the ground. This will set more weight on your back foot. Now 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. Therefore, flare your front foot slightly to help your body unwind to the target and encourage weight transfer. Play the ball in your stance as you would with a flat lie.
LPGA teaching professional Lana Ortega is the director of instruction at the McGetrick Golf Academy (www.mcgetrickgolf.com) in Denver, Colo. She is recognized as one of the top 50 teaching professionals for women.