Strategic Adjustments and Techniques for a Downhill Lie

    For nearly every topic you encounter in the game of golf, there is going to be a mental component and a physical component. If you have already covered the physical adjustments you need to make when playing from a downhill lie, so it is now time to think about strategy. How are you going to approach these shots? What changes should you be making from your normal strategies? Making smart decisions when faced with this kind of shot is nearly as important as making a good swing.

    Once again, we will offer a list of tips to help you form a great strategy before playing any shot from a downhill lie.

  • Automatically play it safer. Anytime you have an uneven lie, you should instantly determine that you are going to take a safer-than-normal path to the target. When you have a flat lie, you can think about being aggressive with your shot in an effort to place the ball near the hole. That is not the case when dealing with a downhill slope. You are going to have trouble controlling this shot for a number of reasons, so you don’t want to demand too much of yourself. Pick a target that provides you with as much margin for error as possible in all directions. That way, even if the shot doesn’t come off perfectly, you will still have a chance to save your par and move on.
  • Consider using less club. This one can be tricky, as the ball isn’t going to travel farther 100% of the time when playing from a downhill lie. It will go farther most of the time, however, so you are probably best to use less club in most circumstances. However, with that said, you need to evaluate the layout of the course up around the green before making your decision. If there is a hazard short of the green and not much trouble over the back, you should stick with the normal club and be okay with going long if that’s what happens. It’s all about making your mistake on the proper side of the green. Determine whether it would be better to come up short or go long, and then choose a club accordingly.
  • Plan on less spin. The ball actually won’t spin less from this kind of a lie – if you strike it cleanly, and you have a good lie in the fairway, you can still get plenty of spin on the ball. So why should you plan on less spin? It has to do with trajectory. Since the ball will almost certainly be coming in on a flatter trajectory, it is not going to stop as quickly as it would if it came in higher. For example, a wedge shot which might normally back up a few feet may hop forward and stop when played from a downhill lie. Think about how quickly you would expect the ball to stop given the conditions and the club in your hands, and then adjust to allow for a little more bounce and roll.
  • It is helpful to understand these general strategy adjustments, but it is also important to remember that each situation is different. Before you decide on the strategy you are going to use for any specific shot, you need to take into consideration all of the factors at play. How good is your lie? How much distance do you have to cover, and is there any wind in play? The list goes on and on. Approach each downhill lie with an open-minded attitude and you should be able to make a smart decision in the end.