While it's wise to use a sweeping swing with a hybrid club when the ball is sitting up, the opposite holds true if you encounter a bad lie.
Unfortunately, many golfers do just the opposite. Believing they must hit up to get the ball in the air, they place too much weight on their right side at address (left side for lefties), tilt the club shaft away from the target and try to pick the ball off the ground. Instead, they either hit behind it (fat) or too high up the ball (thin or topped).
Here's simple way to remember how to play a hybrid shot from a poor lie: When the ball is sitting down, hit down on it. This angle of attack compresses the ball against the turf and gets it airborne with good velocity.
To check the quality of your lie in the rough, place the clubhead behind the ball (be careful not to disturb the ball). If there's little or no space between the ball and the ground, you'll need to make a downward blow.
Of course, you may draw a lousy lie in the fairway, too; the ball could sink into a depression, settle on a bare spot or find a section worn-out turf. Worst-case scenario: Your ball stops in an unfilled divot.
In any event, the technique is the same:
- Set up with the ball in the center of your stance. If the lie is particularly bad, place the ball just right of center.
- With your hands ahead of the ball, angle the shaft so the butt end points at or near your left thigh.
- About 55-60% of your weight should be on the left foot.
- Focus on hitting down hard on the back of the ball, especially if it rests in a divot.
Because the clubface is delofted at address, the ball will come out lower than usual. Take a little less club than the distance normally requires – a 4-hybrid instead of a 3, for example.
Hybrids can be used for just about any shot on the course, from tee to green. Practice different techniques and you'll maximize the utility of these specialty clubs.
Hybrids Hit Down and Punch from a Bad Lie
Hybrid clubs have become so popular in large part due to their versatility. You can pull a hybrid from your bag in a variety of situations around the course, meaning you will get plenty of value from just one slot in your set. For instance, hybrids are great for hitting tee shots on short par fours, and they work beautifully when going for the green in two on a par five. Also, you can hit bump and run shots from around the green with a hybrid, and you can also navigate long par threes with these clubs. When compared to similarly lofted options in the long iron or fairway wood category, it is incredible to consider everything a hybrid club can do.
In this article, we are going to highlight yet another ability of hybrid clubs – punching the ball out of a bad lie. Drawing bad lies is just part of golf, so you need to know how to deal with these situations when they arise. Whether you are an accomplished player or a total beginner, you are sure to run into at least a couple bad lies in just about every round. The way you deal with these poor lies will have a lot to do with your score at the end of the day.
When faced with a bad lie, most golfers will quickly reach for one of their lofted clubs. And, to be sure, this is a smart strategy in many cases. When you draw a truly terrible lie in the rough or some other part of the course, your best decision may be to just wedge the ball back into play. You don't want to make a bad situation worse by trying to force a 'miracle' shot up toward the green. However, it would be a mistake to ignore other options before making your final decision. Prior to pulling that wedge from the bag, be sure to at least consider the possibility of punching your hybrid out of the bad lie. This won't be a viable option in all situations, but it could save you strokes when used at just the right time.
Of course, if you are going to use a hybrid to deal with a bad lie, you have to have at least one hybrid in your bag to begin with. If you aren't yet carrying a hybrid club from round to round, think about your current set to determine if one of your clubs should be replaced with a hybrid. The three iron is a common candidate for replacement in this situation. Unless you are particularly strong with your three iron, you would probably benefit from swapping it out with a quality hybrid club. A hybrid will offer just as much distance as a three iron, if not more, and it will be far easier to hit. Once you see how useful a single hybrid can be, it is likely that you will decide to add one or two more to your set.
All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
The Importance of the Lie
Generally speaking, amateur golfers underestimate the importance of the lie of the golf ball. Where professional golfers obsess over carefully analyzing their lie before playing a shot, many amateurs just walk up and swing away. Needless to say, this is a mistake. If you are going to improve your game over time, you need to learn how to read your lie before every single shot you play (other than tee shots, of course).
So what is it that makes a lie 'bad'? The following points are elements to watch for when attempting to read your lie out on the course.
- Long grass behind the ball. This is the first sign of trouble when you have a bad lie. If there is a collection of long grass behind the ball, you will have difficulty making solid contact at impact. The long grass is going to become trapped between the club face and the ball, meaning you won't be able to get a clean hit. In the end, the shot will come out with reduced speed and almost no backspin. You can usually move the ball forward out of such a lie, but you are going to struggle to control it well enough to hit a specific target. The best way to deal with this kind of lie is simply to keep your ball out of the rough in the first place – you won't have to account for long grass behind your ball when you are playing from the middle of the fairway.
- Bare ground under the ball. You might not think much of it at first, but playing from a bare dirt lie can actually be a serious challenge. If your ball happens to come to rest on a patch of bare ground – which can happen from time to time during a hot summer – you will need to make excellent contact in order to hit a good shot. Playing from the grass gives you just a bit of forgiveness, as there is a cushion under the ball to help you get it up into the air. You lose that cushion when playing from bare ground. It is certainly possible to hit good shots off the dirt, but you will have almost no margin for error. Place an emphasis on striking the ball cleanly in this situation to make sure you get back in play safely.
- Extremely uneven ground. Most of the shots you play during a round of golf are going to be played from some kind of slope. Even golf courses which are mostly flat feature slight slopes in the fairways, usually for drainage purposes. So, you should be used to hitting shots when on a slightly uneven lie, and doing so really isn't a big deal. It becomes a big deal, however, when you find your ball on a significant slope. If the ground is severely tilted under your feet, you have drawn a bad lie – even if the ball is sitting nicely on a short cut of grass. It is hard to maintain your balance when on uneven ground, meaning achieving a clean strike is going to be a major challenge. You have to lower your expectations and play with more margin from this kind of lie if you hope to come away with a solid shot in the end.
The three points above highlight just a small section of the list of possible bad lies you could draw on the golf course. Since golf is a game which is played outdoors, there is no way to outline every possible bad lie. Once your ball strays from the manicured part of the course, you could find yourself dealing with just about any kind of situation. No matter what you encounter on course, be sure to always read your lie carefully before proceeding. By knowing what you are up against in terms of your lie, you will be able to make an informed, logical choice regarding what kind of shot to hit.
The Advantage of a Hybrid
Hybrid clubs provide many advantages over the other options you have in this section of your bag – specifically, long irons and fairway woods. When you include hybrids in your set makeup, you will quickly discover just how many shots they are capable of handling. As was mentioned in the introduction, these are clubs which are well suited for a variety of circumstances in many different parts of the course.
So why is it that you should think about pulling a hybrid club when you are facing a bad lie? The following hybrid attributes make them a great option in this difficult situation.
- Clubhead volume. When compared to the average long iron, a hybrid club is going to offer significantly more clubhead volume. This is important because a larger clubhead is going to provide you with added forgiveness at the moment of impact – and forgiveness is critical when playing from a poor lie. You may not be able to make perfect contact in this situation, as the lie will prevent you from delivering the sweet spot to the back of the ball. As a result, you need the club to help you out a little bit. That help will not be available when using a three or four iron, but a hybrid club should have the forgiveness you need to produce a reasonable shot.
- Wide sole. Depending on the type of bad lie you are facing, having a wide sole on the bottom of your hybrid club may help the clubhead to 'slide' into impact successfully. Long irons are famous for their tendency to dig into the turf as soon as they contact the ground, making them a poor choice for use from a bad lie. The wider, flat sole of your hybrid club is more likely to bounce off the ground than it is to dig in, making it difficult to hit a fat shot. You might not get away with a perfect result when you have to use the sole of the club to save your swing, but you should be able to at least move the ball forward to some degree. Remember, when playing from a bad lie, it isn't about hitting a perfect shot. Rather, you are just trying to create a good enough shot to get the hole back on track.
- Ability to elevate the ball quickly. One thing you will usually want to do from a bad lie is to get the ball up in the air as quickly as possible. It is usually a challenge to get the ball in the air when you have a poor lie, so every bit of help you can find should be welcomed. In this case, that help comes in the form of the design of your club. A hybrid club will have plenty of weight in the sole, meaning it has a low center of gravity and it is likely to elevate the ball with ease. Even if you don't make perfect contact, you should be able to count on your hybrid club to help you at least elevate the ball and move it toward the target.
As you gain experience with your hybrids, you will find that these versatile clubs can handle bad lies almost as well as they handle shots from good lies. Sure, you will have to pick and choose your spots (more on that later), but you should be able to find plenty of opportunities to use your hybrid clubs to help you out of a trouble spot. Before you know it, your hybrid clubs are likely to become some of your favorites throughout the entire set, right up there with the driver and the putter.
Knowing When the Time is Right
As is the case all throughout the golf course, club selection is going to be important to your success when playing from a bad lie. If you pick the wrong club, you might not be able to hit a quality shot – even if you make a perfect swing. On the other hand, you might be able to get away with a poor swing as long as you have the right club in your hands. When facing a bad lie, you need to know when reaching for a hybrid club is a good idea – and when it could lead to disaster.
The following list includes a few tips to help you decide when the time is right to select a hybrid club in a tough spot.
- Forget the hybrids in a deep lie. When your ball is nestled down in deep rough, forget about using one of your hybrid clubs and opt for a wedge instead. The thick, dense grass that is likely to be behind your ball in the long rough is simply too much for your hybrid to handle. By using a wedge, you can put the sharp leading edge to use to cut through the rough effectively. This kind of shot will obviously be a layup, but it is almost certainly going to be your best option. Get the ball back in play, set up a better shot for your next swing, and finish out the hole as quickly as possible.
- Make sure you have enough room for a swing. If you are trying to decide between laying up with a wedge and going for the green with a hybrid, make sure you have enough room around your stance to swing the hybrid safely. If there are tree branches or other obstacles in the way, using the longer club may be a no-go. Even if you have a decent enough lie to play the hybrid, you will have to have the physical space to make a swing.
- Bare lie is a perfect opportunity. When you come across a bare lie where your ball is sitting down directly on the dirt, your hybrid club is a strong contender for the job. With the wide sole needed to avoid digging in to the ground, a hybrid is likely to lead to a positive outcome. As long as you have room to make the swing and the right yardage for the club you are holding, opting for the hybrid is very likely your best bet.
- Check your path to the target. With all of the talk about reading your lie, it is important to remember that you also need to check the path between your ball and the target. Is a shot struck with your hybrid club going to be the right trajectory to deal with what you are facing? Make sure that any club you choose to play from a bad lie is going to be able to navigate the path between where you are standing and where you would like the ball to finish.
If you decide to reach for your hybrid club at the wrong time, you may take your situation from bad to worse in a single swing. Before hitting the shot, picture how your hybrid club is going to approach the ball, and how the ball is going to leave. Can you see the shot working out, or does it feel like it is destined to fail? If you have a bad feeling about the shot you are considering, step back and come up with a new plan.
Making the Right Kind of Swing
Once you have decided that using a hybrid club is going to be an appropriate choice, it will be time to actually make a swing. Unfortunately, due to the bad lie that you are facing, it is unlikely that you will be able to make your usual swing. Rather, you are going to have to alter your technique slightly to promote clean contact. While the changes you need to make to your swing are relatively minor, they are extremely important to your success.
Review the list below and practice these adjustments on the range before you try this kind of shot on the course.
- Choke down on the grip. When playing a hybrid club from a poor lie, the first thing you need to do is choke down on the grip of the club. Rather than keeping your hands up at the top and using the whole club, you are going to come down by an inch or two. This is going to help you control the club throughout the swing, making a solid hit more likely. Also, choking down will promote a downward angle of attack, which is necessary when playing from a bad spot.
- Move the ball back in your stance. With very few exceptions, you always want to move the ball back in your stance when you choke down on the grip. It is necessary to hit down when playing from a bad lie, so positioning the ball in the middle of your stance makes a lot of sense. You would normally play a hybrid shot from a few inches left of center, but that isn't going to work in this case. Set up with the ball perfectly in the middle of your stance and strike down through it aggressively at impact.
- Stay balanced. You cannot afford to sway to the right or left while making this kind of swing. You need to stay perfectly balanced during this swing, with your weight directly over the ball throughout the action. It might be necessary to make a slightly shorter backswing in order to promote balance, but that is a sacrifice you should be willing to make. Staying centered will make it much easier to hit down through the ball, which is one of your main goals on this kind of shot.
- Cut off the follow through. It is not necessary to swing up to a full finish when hitting a hybrid club from a bad lie. In fact, it would be better to cut your swing off shortly after impact. By cutting off your finish, you will place the emphasis of the swing on hitting down through the ball. Make it a goal to take a small divot after you make contact – this mark in the turf will be proof that you have hit down effectively.
Hybrid clubs can do a lot of things on the golf course, including helping you handle tough lies. Of course, you should always strive to keep your ball on the short grass and out of bad lies, but golf is a tough game and you are sure to get off track from time to time. When that happens, review all of your options for playing the shot from a bad lie, including the use of a hybrid club. Sometimes the hybrid will be the right option, and sometimes it won't. By taking your time to read the lie and think through your choices, you should be able to make a smart pick. Good luck!