Knowing how to hit from a hill is an important ingredient in your over-all golf game. You don’t always have a flat, level lie for your shot into the green, so you have to know how the hill is going to influence the flight of your ball. I tell my students that most amateurs aren’t too adept at hitting from hills for one simple reason. They rarely practice them. We all hit balls on the driving range to practice our game but most driving ranges are flat and don’t have hills do they? How often, if ever, have you gone out and hit a hundred balls off of a hill? If you’re like most golfers, probably never! Practice ranges simply don’t offer you the opportunity to practice these shots. Then, when you find yourself on a hill during your real round you don’t know what to do and end up with a poor shot.
In this week’s tip, we’ll key on hitting from an uphill lie as seen in the photo. There are downhill lies and two different side-hill lies too and we’ll discuss those in another tip.
The first thing to understand is how the hill is going to affect the flight of your ball. First of all is your shot is going to fly higher than normal. The hill causes your club to have more loft than usual on it as you tilt your shoulders and hips with the slope. You can see that I’ve conformed my body to tilt the same way as the hill. Don’t lean into the hill but go with the slope. The number that I use is the 10-degree rule. For every 10-degrees of slope the hill has, it’ll change the loft of your club by one. It’ll turn a 7-iron into an 8-iron. If you were on a 20-degree slope it would turn your 7 into a 9-iron so you’ll have to adjust your club selection. If you needed a 7-iron distance and were hitting off a 20-degree slope you’d have to use a 5-iron. The slope will make your 5 play like a 7-iron so experiment around with that until you learn it.
Second is that an uphill lie usually pulls your ball. The slope of the hill makes it harder to drive your legs and lower body through the shot like on a level lie so your arms and club tend to swing through a bit early. The club feels like it passes you more than normal so the clubface closes, resulting in the pull or hook. You can again use the same 10-degree rule here. For every 10-degrees of slope you’re on, your ball will hook or pull about 10-yards. If you were on a 30-degree slope you’d pull it 30-yards. Let it pull, you just have to aim accordingly in the other direction. For me, being a lefty, I’d have to aim a bit to the left since my ball will hook to the right. It’s not a guarantee but it’s a very strong tendency so allow for it. You can swing the same as always and in no time at all you’ll learn how the hill will affect your shot. Hills are nothing to be afraid of and knowing how to master them will certainly lead to lower scores.