INSTRUCTION: Dave Pelz on Downhill Lies

Outsmart That Downhill Lie

By Dave Pelz
It’s not difficult to hit shots solidly from downhill lies. The pros do it all the time. But you can’t hit them using your normal swing arc, with your upper body vertically balanced relative to the slope. It just won’t work.
Click on the images (top of page) for full size illustrations of the proper positions detailed below.

Your upper body and shoulders must be oriented perpendicular to the ground, just like when you hit balls from a level lie. Once you make this adjustment, your normal swing will work. To do this, address the downhill shot as you normally would then move your left foot 12 inches down the hill toward your target. This will automatically move your hands ahead of the ball and establish your ball position well back in your stance (where it should be for this shot). This set up puts 80 percent of your weight on your forward leg and you’ll really feel it in your knee, so be prepared. If you have knee pain or problems, be very careful!

Using your left leg as a brace to stop you from losing your balance, lean your upper body (spine) toward the target until it becomes perpendicular to the ground. This will automatically tilt your shoulders to mimic the downslope.

With your normal swing the club head should now contact the ball before hits the ground, without any hand or wrist manipulation. If you don’t make this adjustment, expect to hit downhill shots fat. This shot will put a lot of weight on your left leg and likely cause you to lose balance shortly after impact. To keep from falling, you’ll have to learn to “walk through” your downhill shots after impact.

To pull the shot off successfully, just stay down and through the shot until after impact. Notice in the swing sequence, my head and shoulders stay with the slope of the terrain well through the fifth image. The full follow through and “step-through” will help you immensely on downhill shots. Once you start to see the ball get up and on to the green a few times, you’ll start to find these “tricky” lies a lot more fun. Try this technique and let me know how it works for you by e-mailing me at [email protected].

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