Golf Uphill Lie

The golf uphill lie occurs when you have hit your ball onto an upslope. You need to aim straight up the slope to get to your target. You are forced to launch the ball up the slope like an athlete competing in the X-games. I finally see Rickie Fowlers transition from X-gamer to PGA Tour star!! 

The golf uphill lie is a challenging lie in that you have no real opportunity to control the trajectory. No matter what club you use and what setup or swing adjustment you use, your ball will go higher than normal.

Having said that there are small tweaks to our setup and approach to hitting these shots that will help you make more consistent contact.

The steps below will help you handle this situation whenever you face it during your rounds.

Golf Uphill Lie Step 1
Recognizing the Situation

  • As you can see from the picture your ball has landed on an upslope and your target line is straight up the slope.
  • The change to ball flight is that the ball will go higher than normal. 
  • The slope ads loft and launch angle to your shot.

Golf Uphill Lie Step 2
Club Selection

  • Due to the higher launch angle your shot will not fly it's regular distance.
  • You will need to take at least one or two more clubs in order to make up the difference.
  • If the shot was your normal 8-iron distance, you may have to select a 7 or 6.
  • There is very little you can do if you have this uphill lie and are hitting into a strong wind. The best thing is to swing easy and advance the ball to a safe part of the golf course. The harder you swing the higher your ball will go and the more it will be impacted by the wind.

Golf Uphill Lie Step 3
Setup (key part of lesson)

  • Club head should be right behind ball, will fix picture soon.
  • The key to playing this shot is in the setup. A small adjustment helps create much more consistent contact for purer shots.
  • If you stand with a normal stance and took a swing, your club would slam into the hill.
  • For this shot we want to take our normal stance and then bend our leg that is lower down the slope (right for right-handers) more than our other leg. 
  • This will tilt the angle of your shoulders to match the angle of the slope. Bend your knee until you shoulder angle matches the slope angle.  The main objective is to get your shoulders to match the slope, but you can't do that without bending your knee. If you do you will likely lose the angle during your swing.
  • You should feel more weight on your right leg than usual.
  • Your ball position should remain in the middle of your stance. If you move the ball forward in your stance then you will likely pull the ball off line because your club face will be closed at impact.

Golf Uphill Lie Step 4
Takeaway

  • The two most important aspects of the swing are balance and maintaining your shoulder angle throughout your swing.
  • With your lower knee bent you should feel a lot of weight already on you lower leg. Try not to shift more onto that leg or you risk falling off the ball down the hill.
  • Start your backswing with your shoulders, arms and club.  Just remember to keep the extra flex in your knee. You will likely feel your leg muscles really engaged to maintain your balance. 
  • As with a flat lie, when your club is parallel to the ground it should in line with your toes. 

Golf Uphill Lie Step 5
Backswing

  • Maintain the flex of your lower leg and use it to brace your turn to the top of your backswing.
  • Make a full upper body turn over your lower body.
  • Avoid shifting your lower body (hips) as this will cause you to shift off the ball down the hill.

Golf Uphill Lie Step 6
Downswing

  • In your setup you set your shoulders to the same angle as the slope.  Heading towards impact you must maintain this angle by keeping the flex in the knee that is lower down the slope.  Right knee for right handed players.
  • The toughest part of the swing is to drive towards the target because it is uphill.
  • Despite going uphill you still want to get your weight onto your target side foot.
  • If you don’t, and your weight stays back, you will likely hit the ball with a very closed club face, sending your shot well left (right handed player) of your target.
  • Remember to always start your downswing from the ground up. Drive towards your target using your feet and legs. Then unwind your body.

Golf Uphill Lie Step 7
Impact

  • Once again this step is all about maintaining your shoulder angle.  This is critical to hitting a solid shot.
  • If you maintain your angle then your club will work up the slope.
  • When we don’t it is usually because our shoulders go back to their normal flat lie angle.  If that happens then our club will slam into the slope at impact instead of swinging up the slope.
  • Another key to solid impact is making sure the hands stay in front of the club head at impact.
  • On the uphill lie it is easy to let the club head flip past the hands at impact. This usually leads to hitting the ground behind the ball.

Golf Uphill Lie Step 8
Follow Through

  • The key to finishing this swing is to continuing to drive towards the target right through to the finish.
  • Try to avoid leaning your body away from the target.

I encourage you to try and find a spot at your practice facility, or when there is a quiet day at your course drop an extra ball on an uphill lie to practice this situation. It is easier to be confident standing over a shot if you have successfully tried the technique.

I hope you find the lesson helpful in the development of your game.  Good luck with all your practicing and playing.

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