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How to Handle Sidehill Lies

The Problem

You're having trouble making solid contact and staying in balance from uphill and downhill lies.

The Solution

From both sides of these lies, you tend to lean into the hill, which almost always results in an inconsistent array of fat and thin shots, as well as poor balance in your backswing and/or finish position.

The Key

The secret to avoiding this error is to make sure that your shoulders match the slope of the hill. Easier said than done--after all, how do you make your shoulders even with the slope of a hill without tipping over? The answer lies in your downhill foot.

What to do

1. Make adjustments in your club selection

An uphill lie naturally adds loft to your shot, so take a less-lofted club in this situation — in other words, a 6-iron instead of a 7-iron. A downhill lie, on the other hand, subtracts loft from your shot, so you should take a more lofted club when you're hitting a ball down a slope.

2. Adjust your ball position

For an uphill lie, move your ball an inch or two farther toward your uphill foot than you normally would. For a downhill lie, play the ball in the middle of your stance or even slightly toward your back, or uphill, foot.

3. Flare your downhill foot

This is an easy way to level your shoulders to the slope without feeling like you're going to lose your balance. From an uphill lie, flare your right (downhill) foot about 45 degrees, and from a downhill lie, flare your left (downhill) foot the same amount. Then swing normally. Your flared foot will naturally even out your stance, which will put the ball at the bottom of your swing arc and keep you from slamming your clubhead into the hill or into the center of your ball.

After making these changes, notice how balanced you are when you finish your swing from a downhill lie, and how much freedom of movement you have in your backswing when you're playing a shot from an uphill lie.

DAVID WRIGHT operates the Wright Balance Golf Academy at Arroyo Trabuco GC in Mission Viejo, Calif.
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