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How lie affects green side shots

It’s something that has a huge influence on how we play the shot, and if not diagnosed correctly, can lead to unforced errors. Understanding the influence of your lie could be an easy way to finish closer to the hole and knock a few shots off your score.

If only we walked up to our ball every time to find it sitting up nicely. Unfortunately, the game of golf is not this kind. Learning to assess your lie correctly is going to help better shot selection and execution. Trying to hit it as close as possible is not always the best option.

Let`s say your ball is lying on a bald, muddy lie with a bunker to go over and a short side pin position (meaning you don’t have much landing room). For many golfers, just getting the ball on the green would be a great achievement.

Grass, debris, and moisture all have influence how the ball comes off the clubface. When any of these interfere between clubface and ball, friction is reduced, generally resulting in a higher launch and much less spin, resulting in weak, high shots with very little spin. When conditions are like this, spin and launch are much more predictable with a lower lofted wedge.

With dry conditions and short grass, there is very little interference between the clubface and ball, resulting in increased friction and a lower launching, higher spinning shot. This can make life difficult when playing to a short-sided flag, especially at a links course, as we tend to get more friction than we want, resulting in the ball coming up short.

Red, Amber & Green

A good little way to assess the lie is using a traffic light system relative to the shot type. For example, a bald lie for a flop shot, would be a red light, as it would be much easier to play with plenty of grass underneath and around the ball. A chip and run shot can be more difficult when the ball is sat up on a fluffy lie, as this often results in the strike location being high up the face, resulting in a weaker shot with a higher trajectory.

When you experience the ball sitting down and the required shot is a high floaty one then consider a lower lofted alternatives if possible, where you may need to land the ball before the green and run it up. The stage of the match or game could also influence your decision and risk relative to lie.

I hope this gives you a little insight into the influence of different lies and how to approach them.

I would hugely recommend playing around the practice green with 3 balls from 3 different lies to the same flag and playing the same shot for each lie and seeing which plays the best and most reliable for you, and how it influences the shot.

Still need help?

I offer face to face coaching at Waterlooville Golf Club in Hampshire, UK, and online or remotely via online app Skillest. Your first online lesson is free - follow me at:

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