Keys to Hilly Fairway Lies

Fairway woods are designed to be used from, you guessed it, the fairway. Yet many amateurs hesitate to hit them from uneven lies in the short grass, even if their only hope of reaching the green is with a wood. Intimidated, they reach for the more forgiving 4- or 5-iron, figuring it’s better to be short than right or left.

That attitude won’t help your scores. There’s no reason to forgo a wood from an uphill, downhill, or sidehill lie, provided you make the proper adjustments. What follows are keys for hitting from the slopes. Practice them, and you’ll be more inclined to use your fairway woods.

  • Ball forward in stance.
  • Spine perpendicular to slope.
  • Take less-lofted club.
  • Aim farther right.

Align your shoulders and hips parallel to the slope. This allows you to swing along the slope rather than down into the slope, which leads to fat contact. If you swing with the slope, your weight should finish forward and over your front leg (left). Aim farther right since the ball will tend to fly high and left.

  • Hips and shoulders parallel to slope.
  • Ball back in stance.
  • Take more-lofted club.
  • Aim farther left.

As you might expect, everything here is the opposite of the uphiller. The downslope will make the ball travel lower and with more roll, so you should add loft. The ball will also tend to fly right. Go with the more lofted club (e.g., a 5-wood instead of a 3-wood). Play the ball an inch or so back of normal in your stance — to reduce the likelihood of catching the turf behind the ball — and, again, swing with the slope.

Ball below feet
  • Bend more from knees and hips.
  • Use normal grip.
  • Aim farther left.
  • Keep lower body quiet through swing.

Ball Below Feet
To reach the ball, bend more from your knees and hips, getting into a lower, “sitting” position. If you stand too upright, you’ll have a hard time maintaining balance and making solid contact. Keep your legs steady and make an arms-and-upper-body swing. There should be minimal leg movement. Try to maintain your balance through the finish.

Ball Above Feet
  • Grip down several inches.
  • Stand taller.
  • Aim farther right.
  • Swing in balance.

Ball Above Feet
Since the ball is closer to you, grip down on the club several inches to maintain the correct relationship (distance) to the ball. Many golfers hit this shot fat because they don’t alter their grip; or, they stand too far away from the ball and risk topping it. The ball will want to curve left due to the sideslope, so aim right to compensate.

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