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Trouble: Bad Lies
By Erika Larkin on 4/23/14
Typically, my recommendation for hitting a shot off a bad lie is this: "Bad lie, back in the stance."

Very simply, if your ball is sitting down in a hole or divot, on hard-pan, or if you have a tuft of grass behind or in front of your ball (you're in the tree line or on some pine straw), a back ball-position is pretty much a cure-all. We are always at the mercy of our lie, so my recommendation is going to get you out of the lie, out of trouble, and back into play with decent control. (It is not realistic to think we are going to hit a nice high soft shot out of a hole.)

To break it down a little further:
  1. Play the ball a few inches back of your normal position with that club. For example, a 4-iron that is usually played left-of-center should be played just right-of-center, not off the right foot. That would be too exaggerated.

    This adjustment is going to increase the shaft lean, which decreases club loft. Expect the ball to come out at a lower trajectory than normal. As a positive, you stand a good chance of making contact with the ball first from here, increasing your odds of a clean shot.

    Clean = control.

  2. Another important adjustment is to set your weight a little heavier on your lead leg. This will ensure that your center of gravity stays in front of the ball. We do not want to "help it out" of a bad lie with a scooping motion, or hanging back with our body; that just makes it worse.

  3. Allow your swing to work a little steeper than normal (more vertical backswing and downswing) — this will help you hit down on the ball and hit it out cleanly. A good idea is to hinge your wrists more dramatically on the backswing, to set up a steeper plane.

I hope these tips help you the next time you have a bad lie — which hopefully won't be too often!!


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


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