How to Make Bad Lies Look Good

July 2, 2009

The Situation

Your ball has come to rest in some light rough, but there’s enough debris around it to make you think twice about hitting a full shot toward the green.

The Typical Reaction

It’s a trouble lie, so you hit a short-iron back out to safety — a good move in most recovery situations, but not when you need to score.

The Better Option

Don’t let lies fool you — you’re not always stuck with the one you see when you first arrive at your ball. Spend a few moments picking up the leaves, sticks, or anything else around your lie. After removing the loose debris, you’ll discover that your ball isn’t sitting so badly. As you can see from the photos at right, this bad lie is actually pretty good when you eliminate the rubbish. It’s sitting just high enough for you to make a full swing and get on the green without wasting a shot.

Lies like this are an important lesson: never select a shot until you make the situation as good as it can be. As kids, my teammates and I practiced cleaning up lies by playing pick-up sticks with pine needles. We’d see how many we could pull from the lie without disturbing the ball. We became experts at turning bad lies into good ones. It’s a simple task that a lot of players don’t bother doing, and it can pay real dividends in your score.