Playing downhill – where the slope falls straight toward the green or target – can cause some odd-looking golf shots. How come?
For starters, the slope has the effect of reducing the club’s loft. For instance, if you’re hitting down a hill with an 8° grade, your 34° 7-iron becomes a 26° 5-iron. Hence, the ball flies much lower than usual for the club you’ve chosen.
Downhill shots tend to veer right as well, sometimes with a fade or slice pushing them farther off line. That’s because the slope pulls weight to your left (lead) foot, preventing a full backswing turn, keeping the body too far ahead of the ball on the downswing, and making it difficult to square the clubface at impact. The open club sends the ball squirting to the right.
In fact, even solidly struck shots from downhill lies will typically fly very low, land hot and roll considerably farther than expected. That’s why it’s important to understand the compensations necessary to handle these situations – which we’ll examine in the next tip.