Conquering the Sidehill Lie

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Are you comfortable striking a golf ball from a sidehill lie? Some of you may find very little difficulty in this, while others probably find the challenge extremely daunting! A couple of questions tend to pop up when I work with players from various hillsides. “Which way do I lean, and where do I aim?” If these thoughts creep into your head, there is a good chance that you are overthinking your approach.  Let me simplify it for you.

Most mistakes from a hillside begin with failure to establish proper balance.  Rather than using the hillside to help determine your balance, many players work against the slope with the hope of not falling down! To improve upon this, I ask my players to stand on a slope without even holding a golf club. What they immediately notice is how they use gravity to establish their balance. Whichever leg is on the lower end of the slope, that leg is supporting a majority of their weight. However, once I put a golf club back in their hands, they typically begin leaning in every direction trying to figure out where to be. Don’t fight the slope. Instead, use the slope to help establish your balance, and then swing at a speed that allows you to maintain that balance from start to finish. This, however, is only half of the challenge.

Let’s face it, we all struggle at times with proper alignment. I notice it all of the time while working with players on a level practice range. Throw in a hillside, and alignment issues become a much greater problem. While standing on a hillside, imagine dropping a ball on the ground and watching it roll away. Whichever way that ball rolls is the direction the ball will tend to fly after striking it with your club. For example, for right handed golfers, if the ball is below your feet you can anticipate the ball curving to the right after you strike it. Therefore, you should aim to the left of your intended target. On the opposite side, if the ball is above your feet you can anticipate the ball curving to the left after being struck.  Therefore, you should aim to the right of your intended target. Once you are comfortable with this alignment, you will find it much easier to commit to your swing.

When you find yourself on a sidehill lie, use the slope to help determine your alignment and balance. Once you are settled over the ball and prepared for your shot, focus on swinging at a speed which allows you to maintain your balance. Do this, and those sidehill lies will not bother you anymore! Have a great week!

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