Ball Above Feet – What the Ball Does 1

Here's an easy way to remember what happens when you've got an uneven lie in the fairway or rough: The ball will curve in the direction of the slope.

That means a ball that's above the feet of a right-handed golfer will curve to the left. The opposite happens on shots with the ball below your feet.

In the case of a ball-above-feet lie, this occurs because the slope causes the clubface to point left, weight to move toward your heels, and your swing to become flatter and more rotational (think baseball).

Shots from these lies nearly always start left of where your body is aligned, then curve even farther left in flight. The closed clubface makes for a lower trajectory as well, so the ball often hits the ground running.

Therefore, you've got to compensate for these factors in order to hit the target. Read this tip to learn how.

Have you ever had to play a shot with the ball resting above the level of your feet?

Ball Above Feet – What the Ball Does

If you have played golf for any length of time, the answer is an obvious one – of course you have. Very few golf courses are truly flat, as even those layouts which rest on mostly flat land still have some undulation from tee to green. To play this game successfully, you need to learn how to deal with uneven lies, as they are a regular part of golf.

In this article, we are going to talk about how to handle a shot where the ball is resting above your feet. We'll talk about what you can expect the ball to do in this situation, and we'll also discuss how you can adjust in order to achieve good results. Generally speaking, shots played from uneven lies are going to be more difficult than shots played from flat lies, but that doesn't mean they are impossible. Rather than getting frustrated about having to play a shot with the ball above your feet, you should focus on getting down to the business of handling the shot properly.

One of the reasons these shots are so tricky is the simple fact that most driving ranges don't offer uneven lies for players to practice this scenario. The typical driving range is completely flat, meaning you'll only be able to work on playing shots from level lies. That's just fine for working on the mechanics of your swing. However, when you get out on the course and find a variety of uneven lies, you may feel a bit unprepared. Unless you happen to know of a driving range with slopes that you can practice from, there isn't much you can do about this issue.

So, if you can't practice hitting with the ball above your feet, how do you actually improve this part of your game? It really comes down to two steps. First, you can read an article such as this one to pick up valuable advice. By understanding what is likely to happen when the ball is above your feet, you will be more likely to make the appropriate adjustments on the course. Second, you are just going to need to accumulate experience during actual rounds. As the months and years go by, you'll be bound to wind up in this situation from time to time. With each shot you hit, you should get a little more comfortable with the task of handling this type of lie.

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.

Standard Expectations

Standard Expectations

It is tricky to write an article on something like what the golf ball is going to do from a particular type of lie. This is a hard subject to tackle because there are so many variables in this game. Yes, there are patterns which will hold true on most occasions, and it is worth it for you as the golfer to understand those patterns. With that said, very few things in this game can be taken as absolute. It seems there are exceptions to every rule, so the player always has to be aware of the variables at play and willing to adapt as necessary.

With that said, we are going to offer some basic guidance in this section with regard to what you can expect when the ball is above your feet. Please review the points below to gain a better understanding of this subject.

  • Look left. Most of the time, a shot played with the ball above your feet is going to want to move to the left once it has been struck. As a handy rule of thumb, the ball is usually going to move in the same direction as the slope from which it is being played. So, in this case, the ground is sloping down from right to left (as viewed from behind the ball, looking toward the target), and the ball is going to tend to move left as it flies. If you were in a position where the ball was resting below your feet (ground sloping down from left to right), you could expect the opposite ball flight pattern. The same holds true when dealing with an uphill or downhill lie. On an upslope, the ball should fly higher. On a downslope, a lower trajectory will be anticipated. If you learn nothing else from this article, knowing that the ball will tend to move in the same direction as the slope should help you make better decisions and hit better shots.
  • Adjust your number. In many cases, you are going to lose a bit of distance when you are playing a shot with the ball above your feet. This does not necessarily have anything to do with the lie of the ball, but rather with the swing you are going to be able to make. It's hard to make your normal full swing on an uneven lie, and your overall swing speed may be damaged as a result. Sure, the ball will gain a bit of extra distance if it does turn over to the left, but that probably won't make up for the reduction in speed. Let's say, for example, that you are facing a 150-yard shot from a lie where the ball is significantly above your feet. If that distance is usually covered by a seven iron in your game, it might take a six to reach the target comfortably. It is important to note that the severity of the lie plays a key role here. When the ball is just slightly above your feet, there may be no distance loss at all to worry about. However, as the lie gets more dramatic, your swing will have to change more significantly, and you will lose more power.
  • Back on the ground. It is easy to make the mistake of focusing all of your attention on what the ball is going to do as it flies through the air. Unfortunately, that perspective misses a big piece of the puzzle – what is the ball going to do after it lands? In this situation, the ball is not only likely to move left in the air, it is also likely to keep moving left after it lands. You will want to pay specific attention to this issue when playing short iron shots into receptive greens. As the ball comes down, it may be moving a little to the left, as expected. Then, when it strikes the green and the spin of the shot takes over, the ball may be moved even farther to the left thanks to the sidespin that was created at impact. If you are playing a course with quick greens, even a little bit of side spin can lead to quite a lot of roll out to the left – and that roll out may be taking your ball farther and farther away from the hole. As you pick your target for a shot in this kind of situation, be sure to factor in the possibility that the ball will take a left turn after it lands on the putting surface.

To simplify what was stated above, you can expect the ball to move to the left and fly a little bit shorter when played from above the level of your feet. Of course, things never work out that simply on the golf course, but this basic understanding is a great place to start. Even if you just aim out to the right a bit when the ball is above your feet, you will have done something to improve your chances of success. As we move forward with this article, we are going to offer advice on how to properly adjust for this kind of lie, both in terms of course management as well as the actual mechanics of your swing.

Charting a Course to the Target

Charting a Course to the Target

One of the commonly overlooked elements of the game of golf is the need to plan out your shots carefully. Countless amateur golfers fail to think much about this step, instead opting to just walk up to the ball, pick a club, and swing away. You might have success from time to time with this kind of haphazard approach, but it's never going to work out for you in the long run. Eventually, your lack of planning will catch up with you, and you'll make a big mistake somewhere along the way.

It's important to plan all of your shots, but it's particularly important when you are playing from an uneven lie. There is a lot going on with a shot like this, so taking a moment to think everything over is a wise idea. The points below should provide you with some guidance as you craft a plan to handle this tricky shot.

  • It's all about margin for error. You shouldn't expect to hit a perfectly accurate shot from this type of lie. Sure, you might pull off such a feat from time to time, but that should not be your expectation. It's simply too hard to hit your target line when the ball is above your feet to expect that it will happen over and over again. So, with that said, the name of the game here is margin for error. You want to give yourself as much room to work with as possible in order to get through the shot without finding trouble. When picking a target, select a spot that is going to allow as many different misses as possible to land safely. Often, but not always, this will mean aiming for the middle of the green on an approach shot. Depending on the topography of the course around the green, aiming toward the right half of the putting surface may be a wise choice, as that will give you margin on the left if the ball turns more than you expect. It takes patience to play these shots with plenty of margin – because you may not end up aiming at the hole itself – but your patience will be rewarded when you are able to avoid hazards and other trouble spots more successfully.
  • Forget about the fade. It is generally not advised to attempt a fade when playing a shot with the ball above your feet. While it's not technically impossible to play a fade in this situation, planning on doing so is inviting trouble. The big problem here is what's known as a double-cross. It works like this – you see that the hole is cut on the right side of the green, so you decide to play a fade. To accommodate that fade, you aim out toward the left side of the green, or even off the left side, depending on the size of the green and the amount of fade you plan on producing. Then, when it comes time to hit the shot, you actually wind up with a draw because of the slope of the ground. Since you've already aimed left, that draw is now going to take your ball way off target, and potentially off the course entirely. By aiming for a fade and instead producing a draw, you've sent your ball into a bad position and you are probably going to pay for it on the scorecard.
  • Think about extra roll. Depending on course conditions, you may need to plan for extra roll on the end of this type of shot. Since the ball is likely to be turning over from right to left, it may run out more than you are used to – especially if you tend to hit a fade from a flat lie. We mentioned in the previous section that the ball may move left after it lands, which is true, but it may move farther away from you at the same time (depending on course conditions, the trajectory and distance of the shot, and other factors). If you are playing a course that is firm and fast, take the potential for extra roll into account when selecting a club and a target line.

As you gain experience with these types of shots, you'll get more and more comfortable with the task of making a plan. You will start to become familiar with how the ball is likely to come off your club, and you'll be able to predict more accurately what is going to happen both as the ball flies and after it lands.

Looking for Flat Spots: One of the great things about golf is the amount of control that you have over the path you take from tee to green. Sure, you have to stay within the boundaries of the course, but it is up to you to decide which lines to take and which clubs to use. With that in mind, one of the best things you can do from a strategic standpoint is to look for flat spots that can provide you with easier approach shots.

Throughout this article, we have been talking about how to play shots where the ball is resting above the level of your feet. And, to be sure, you do need to know how to play such shots. However, that is a skill you should keep in your bag as often as possible. If you can manage to place your ball on flat portions of the course on a regular basis, you will have a better chance to hit accurate approaches and set up birdie putts.

When you step up onto the tee of a par four or par five, one of the first things you should do is look down the fairway to decide where you would like to place the ball. Does one side of the fairway look flatter than the other? Can you draw a flatter lie if you use a shorter club than your driver to take some distance off the tee shot? In addition to looking for flat spots, you should also be considering the angle that you will want to play in toward the green. Once you've considered all factors and have chosen a club, there will be nothing left to do but execute the swing properly.

We hope the tips provided in this article will help you fare better the next time you find the ball resting above your feet. These kinds of lies are relatively common in golf, so it is important that you know how to deal with them properly. While you'll probably always prefer a flat lie, having the ability to hit quality shots from uneven turf will make you a better overall player. Good luck!