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The Truth About Lies
By Erika Larkin on 5/15/13
We are always at the mercy of our lie in golf especially around the green. Even if the situation calls for a certain type of shot (a high lob) we sometimes have to adjust and settle for a different trajectory or release (roll out) just to be able to make solid contact and give ourselves a chance at a putt. When golfers take their lie for granted and they assume, for example, that their favorite bump and run 7 iron shot should work well out of a thick lie in the rough, they are just setting themselves up for disappointment. We can't fit a square peg through a round hole ... so let's not try to force our shots onto a given lie ... you must understand how the lie dictates the shot.

Specifically talking about lies around the green here six scenarios and things to consider about adjust to that lie respectively:
  1. Good average lies — ball sitting nicely in thin rough or on the fringe or fairway: Good news — the best case scenario! You can play just about any shot you would like; any ball position, any club (SW-hybrid) or shot shape (chip, pitch, flop) should work just fine!

  2. Ball teed up in the rough: If you're close to the green, a small, shallow putting like chip shot will work well. If you're farther off the green and need to take a half a swing, limit your wrist hinge and square up the clubface to avoid sliding under the ball (I think we've all done that!) This ball will tend to fly farther easily, so swing smooth, imagine you're trying to clip it off a tee and don't "muscle" this one.

  3. Ball sitting halfway down in the rough: A square to slightly open face works best with a wedge for short or long shots. Any amount of wrist hinge would work fine out of this lie. A SW-9-iron would be best, a longer iron out of this lie might come out too low and hot depending on how thick the grass is.

  4. Ball way down low in thick rough: Treat this lie like a bunker shot: play the ball slightly up in your stance, open the face of a lofty wedge, hinge up sharply on the backswing and work the club down and through that grass. A steep angle of attack with a good body turn and a "blocked" (open) clubface through impact is a key part of getting the ball out of this lie and landing softly on the green.

  5. Bad lie — in a divot, dry hard pan, or sitting against a tuft of grass: Don't even think about a flop shot! My rule of thumb is "bad lie, back of the stance (ball position)" and square up the clubface. Think soft "punch shot". You should just try and get the clubface on the ball first to avoid any bounce from the lie. If you can manage a little wrist hinge on the backswing do it, otherwise just make contact and expect a little extra roll out and a lower trajectory, so plan accordingly on the size of your swing.

  6. Soaking wet fairway: This lie makes it easy to hit it fat. Use a sand wedge or other high-bounce club the will prevent digging. Slightly open the face and you will present the bounce and clip the ball and not too much turf. Another option you have for short shots from this lie is to get the shaft of a short iron upright so that the club is sitting more on its toe, then with an easy putting stroke just get it rolling onto the green (taking the heel out of the shot will help you avoid the fat miss from this wet lie).


Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virigina. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine... and she's oobgolf's newest columnist. She will be writing on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at ErikaLarkin@pga.com. Enjoy!


[ comments ]
mwtravlr says:
Recently I had a ball in a "bird's nest" while playing #17, lying on bare ground surrounded by 3" rough. It was 10 yards from the edge of the green, and 20 yards from the pin. Really awful lie and I didn't know what to do. So I took a 56 SW and tried to hit a steep, wrist hinged "30 yd punch-pitch" (similar to your #5), but hit too hard and it sailed over the green, leaving me 15 yards on the other side, short sided with a downhill landing area. Another pitch and two putts got me a double bogey which was a real disappointment.

Any specific advice for "bird's nests"?
5/20/13
 
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