Flush iron shots from a down­hill lie.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By Shan­shan Feng

We all prac­tice on ranges where our feet and ball are on at lies. But on the course, things aren’t al­ways so friendly.A lot of times you’ll nd your ball in a spot where you can’t stand and swing like you do on the prac­tise tee.A com­mon lie I see am­a­teurs re­ally strug­gle with is when the ball is be­low your feet like I’m deal­ing with here.This shot is un­nerv­ing for am­a­teurs, because they play it like it’s on a at lie. The re­sult is typ­i­cally hit­ting it fat or thin. Ideally, you should spend some time prac­tis­ing shots from di er­ent lies, but un­til that hap­pens, here’s some ad­vice to help you make bet­ter con­tact.

When I’m on any un­even lie, I usu­ally se­lect one club longer than nor­mal. It’s so easy to lose your bal­ance when the ground be­neath your feet isn’t at, so the ex­tra club al­lows me to make an eas­ier, more con­trolled swing, in­creas­ing the chance I hit it solid and get the ball to the green. Next, I ad­just my spine an­gle to the slope. That means tilt­ing my shoul­ders to match the slant of the lie. Once I do that, I take some prac­tice swings feel­ing like my club is mov­ing along the slope – not against it. I sug­gest you do the same. On this shot, my left shoul­der at ad­dress was a lit­tle lower than my right to match the an­gle of the hill. If my left shoul­der was level with my right, I’d prob­a­bly hit the ground be­hind the ball and chunk the shot. Even with my shoul­ders and spine an­gled to match the slope, I know my swing is go­ing to bot­tom out a lit­tle ear­lier than it would from a at lie. So when I set up, I play the ball slightly fur­ther back in my stance than I nor­mally would.Also, to help make solid con­tact, I favour my front foot a lit­tle more.That last ad­just­ment steep­ens the an­gle of at­tack, which helps en­sure I hit the ball be­fore the ground.

Re­mem­ber those prac­tice swings I rec­om­mended, feel­ing like you’re swing­ing along the slope? Now’s the time to put that feel into ac­tion.When you swing, make sure your club­head traces the ground. It’s like the club is chas­ing af­ter the ball down the hill. You can see that’s what I did, because my right shoul­der is way lower than my left in the through-swing.

One way to get bet­ter from these lies is with a drill that helps im­prove con­tact. Next time you’re at the range, hit a shot and then step towards the tar­get with your trail foot (right for right-han­ders). This will get you to shift your weight into your lead foot in the down­swing, a nec­es­sary el­e­ment of hit­ting the ball solidly. It also will make you more com­fort­able hit­ting shots while not being com­pletely in bal­ance, and that’s a big part of suc­cess on any golf course. – FENG, from China, is No 6 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rank­ing.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to keep your bal­ance.”

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