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How To Win More Games Using Golf's Problem Shots To Your Advantage

May 28, 2008
Hey, golfers...want to lower your score without having to work harder? Me to. One easy way to do so is to prepare for the tougher shots that will inevitably come up during a game. The fact of the matter is that few of the people you play against will know how to deal with the rough & "hilly" lies. By the end of this article, you will have the edge to beat them practically every time. Learn how to effectively manage these shots & a lower score is practically guaranteed. Let's run through a couple quick tips to get you a lower score today....

A. The Rough

Unless all your shots travel in a perfect line for the perfect distance, eventually you'll find yourself in the rough. Unlike the fine grass of the fairways and greens, the rough can be long & shaggy & it can throw off your game quickly. The rough can sometimes make your ball hard to find, let alone hit!

Because the ball can sink into long grass, you can't rely on standard techniques to get out. You must change your swing to tame this rough stuff.

When you're in the rough, the first thing to do is to assess the lie carefully. Is the ball sitting high or has it dropped deep into the local jungle? If it's up, you may be able to use a long iron or wood & swing normally.

But usually you'll find your ball has landed at least some of the way down into the rough. So your only play might be to take a short iron and blast into the fairway.

Your primary concern is to get out. Even if you advance the ball only a few yards, it's still better than being in the rough all day.

So, what do you do?

1.Select a club, set the clubface square, play the ball in the middle of your stance, and choke down on the grip. Hold the club above the grass until you swing. This is because pushing it down may make the ball fall in even deeper.

2.Make a steep swing so the clubface encounters as little resistance as possible from the grass. However, prepare for grass wrapping around your club on the downswing. This can cause the face of your club to close & your ball to fly left (aim slightly right at address to compensate if you need to).

3.Swing hard, but don't bring your hands back higher than your shoulders. A shortened swing will help you maintain your balance.

Another thing: balls coming out of rough tend to be "hot." The grass that gets between your club & the ball can decrease its spin. This may cause your shots to fly lower than normal and roll for a long time after landing (And your ball will fly even hotter when shooting from wet rough). Try to judge the situation that you are confronted with & plan accordingly.

B. Hitting From a Slope

Now that we've dealt with the "rougher issues"...

Despite your best intentions, your ball won't always settle on level ground. Eventually, you'll have to hit off a "hilly" lie. You need to develop the skills needed to deal with shots located above or below your feet & on up slopes and down slopes.

Playing off a hill requires proper balance, club selection, correct ball flight. Here's how to make the shot from any grade.

1. Uphill/Downhill Lies

Here we go. To make a good swing & maintain balance, set your hips and shoulders parallel to the slope. On an uphill lie, that means moving your back foot (the right foot for a right-hander) slightly down the hill. On a downhill lie, reposition your forward (left) foot down the hill. (Reverse these if you are a lefty).

In both cases, assume a stance where the ball is closer to the higher foot (left on an uphill lie, right on a downhill). Swing the club along the angle of the hill. The steeper the incline, the easier it is to lose balance, so make a shorter-than-normal swing.

Slope also influences the height and distance of shots, making club selection crucial. An uphill lie adds loft to the club so the ball flies higher, but not as far. Compensate by taking a club with less loft. For example, hit a 5- or 6-iron instead of your usual 7-iron, if that's what you'd use at this distance.

Reverse the procedure for a downhill lie, where you need a more-lofted club. Finally, resist the temptation to overly "help" the ball into the air in a downhill lie; the club will do it for you.

2. Side Hill Lies

If the ball is located above or below your feet, you need to alter your posture. The lie will dictate how to stand. When the ball is located above your feet, it is actually closer to your hands. This fact forces you to stand taller & flatten your swing (the club will move more around your body). Conversely, a ball below your feet is farther away & you will need to bend more to reach it (And create more "up and down" in your swing).

Changes to your swing can influence ball flight. The flatter swing produced when the ball is above your feet may cause the ball to curve from right to left. Allow for this draw by aiming more toward the right. And, the steeper swing caused by trying to hit a ball below your feet can create a left-to-right pattern. Aim more to the left to handle that fade....
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