How to properly assess your golf lie?


To properly assess your golf lie you should always know that golf is a tricky game that occasionally stirs up the best of our emotions. Sometimes we can hit a great ball off the tee in the middle of the fairway, only to end up in a bad lie like a divot or a hole. Or, sometimes we can hit a bad drive to find it in a perfect spot, even if it’s off the beaten path.

One thing that many golfers struggle with is understanding the different types of lies and how to play them correctly. The more you can understand the lie of a ball and how to play it, the better the scores you will post. We will explain how to analyze a lie and what adjustments you should make in any case.

🏌️‍♂️ Golf Lie Evaluation

▪️ First of all, what is the dregs of a golf ball?

The lie is simply the way the ball lies in the grass, sand or other places where it may end up. This is one of the first things a golfer should check when he gets close to his ball – assess your golf lie.

Let’s break down many of the positions you will encounter during a round of golf.

🌿 Lie on the fairway

First of all, the perfect place, that is to say the fairway. Did you know that PGA Tour players only hit about half the fairways? In 2021, the PGA Tour accuracy average was 60.69%. Hard to believe, right?

You usually only have 14 chances to find the fairway per round and each time your ball lands on the fairway things get much easier.

When your ball is in the fairway, you don’t have to worry about it skipping, hitting thick rough or anything else. Instead, you just need to assess the slope as part of your pre-shot routine.

But it is not always easy, sometimes there is also a slope. You will find in this other article all the precautions to take before: playing a slope shot.

🌿 Bad lie on the fairway

Sometimes an excellent drive ends up in a divot in the middle of the fairway. While it’s natural to get a little frustrated, you have to get over it and play accordingly. When the rules say you cannot place the ball, you must play it where it lies.

We advise you here to play this type of shot by placing the ball at the back of your stance and to have a more aggressive angle of attack on the ball than if the ball was perfectly placed. This will allow you to increase your chances of taking the ball and then the ground.

A ball full of mud

Another bad lie you may encounter on the fairway is a muddy ball. This usually happens during the winter months when the ground is wet and muddy. If you end up with a muddy ball, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Mud affects the direction of the ball. If you have mud on the right side of your ball, its flight will probably be deflected to the left (conversely on the left side).
  • The longer the hit, the more mud will affect it. For example, if you hit a hybrid, the ball will tend to drift much more than if you hit a pitching wedge. If you have a lot of mud on your ball, sometimes it’s best to hit a straight, clean shot to try and get the mud off on contact.

See Also: Discover the moment of inertia of your golf clubs!

🌿 The lees in the rough – assess your golf lie

Now that you know how to assess and play a lie from the fairway, let’s talk about some common situations in the rough. The better you assess your position in the rough, the better you can catch up if you miss the fairway.

▪️ Lie « flyer »

The first lie you may encounter in the rough is a so-called “flyer” lie. This is when the ball is perfectly laid on the grass, as if it were off a tee.

Although this is usually better than ending up in deep rough, this lie can also cause you some problems. First, make sure the ball is properly laid by placing the club around the ball. Usually you can quickly see if there is grass under the golf ball or not. And if you have a lie flyer, change clubs!

Balls in this position tend to fly off the clubface faster and therefore travel much further than normal. You will therefore have to choose a less closed club to execute this type of shot. A 7 iron will become an 8 iron or less depending on the wind or the elevation of the course.

▪️ Lie in the thick rough

Another fairly common situation in the rough is when the ball disappears into thick grass. It depends on the type of grass, but some grasses are known to sink the ball deep. Sometimes it even becomes impossible to find your ball unless you walk on it.

If this happens, it is important to assess the ground and take the right club. Too many golfers try to hit closed irons, hybrids or woods when the lie doesn’t allow it.

If your lie and is clearly tricky, the number one priority is to get out of that situation and get back into play. Use a club with more loft, play the ball in the middle or back of your stance, and get out -her safe. You may lose a shot in the operation but you will be sure to have a perfect lie the next shot to try to make up for this lost shot.

▪️ Unplayable bind

If the lie is so bad that you can’t play it (but have found it), you still have the option of declaring your ball unplayable. Under Rule 19, a player may take a drop anywhere on the course if he declares his ball unplayable, except in a penalty area.

However, by declaring your ball unplayable, you will be required to take a one-stroke penalty and drop it in one of the following ways.

According to the USGA, you have several different options:

  • The player may play the original ball or another ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).
  • The player may drop the original ball or another ball (see Rule 14.3) in a relief area that is based on a reference line going directly down the centerline and behind the hole through the spot of the ball of origin. You can go as far back as you want on the line with the flag.
  • The player may drop the original ball or another ball in that side relief area (see Rule 14.3).

It is important to note that you must find your golf ball to declare a lie unplayable. Otherwise, you must replay your last hit by returning to the previous hit slot.

See Also: How to Evaluate Various Lie in Golf

▪️ Plugged lie (buried ball)

Another situation you may encounter on the course is when your ball is partially or completely embedded. This is a ball that sits on wet ground and partially sinks into the earth, a so-called plugged ball. This usually happens in winter, in wet conditions, and can occur on the fairway, in the rough, or other areas of the golf course (especially in bunkers).

As you’ll read in a second, if this happens in the sand, you have to do your best to play the shot. But if the ball sinks anywhere other than the sand, you get a free drop.

According to the USGA, “Rule 16.3 permits an embedded ball to be lifted anywhere in the ‘general area’ unless it is embedded in the sand. The player may then drop his original ball or a substituted ball a club-length from (not nearing the hole) the spot immediately behind where the ball was embedded. »

If you think your ball is embedded, you always have the option of inserting a tee where the ball landed to mark its location and check. If it’s sunk into the ground, then you can drop for free. If not, you must replace the ball as accurately as possible and play your stroke from that position.

▪️Lie in water

Yes, it is possible to play a ball that is partially submerged in water. But beware of swimming or slipping, which could seriously affect the result of your shot and the rest of your game. We advise you here to take a drop and a penalty stroke to avoid destroying your scorecard.

▪️ Lie in the bunker

Now that we’ve covered the common types of lies in grass, let’s not forget sand either. There are five common positions you will encounter in bunkers.

The ball is lying on the sand

The first position is where the ball is well placed. This happens when the ball drops and rolls into the bunker, leaving you in good position. When your ball is in this situation, you can play a normal stroke in the bunker.

The only thing you need to assess is the slope of the terrain. If your ball is on an uphill slope, you need to adjust the angle of your shoulders, so the club doesn’t hit the sand too soon. By aligning your shoulders with the slope, you can swing with the slope and the ball should come out higher and land very softly.

If the ball is on a downhill slope, the shot is a little more difficult than uphill. In this case, you need to put it more in the middle of your stance and adjust your shoulders as well. The ball will come out lower, so be sure to use your wedge with as much loft as possible.

Wet sand – assess your golf lie

If you walk into a bunker and realize the sand is wet, it’s a pretty straightforward shot. Since it is wet and heavier than normal, make sure you adapt by not opening the club as much. Then swing with a little more power to lift the ball and the sand out of the bunker.

Hard sand

If you enter a bunker and feel the sand is firm. Obviously, you can’t test the sand with your club before you hit the shot, so you’ll have to rely on your feet. If the sand is firm, do not open your clubface because you run the risk that it will not penetrate the sand but on the contrary will bounce on the ground, which will suddenly produce a topped ball that will be uncontrollable. On the contrary, try to keep the face square, which will allow you to more easily take sand before your ball.

Last option in the case of very hard sand and which in some cases can be the safest shot to perform. You can take your putter and roll your ball on the hard sand. This option will obviously be impossible if the lip of the bunker is too high or if you are too far from the green.

Ball stuck in the sand

The reason it is called that is because the ball is partially buried due to soft or wet sand. This position rarely occurs with firm, hard sand because the ball bounces more easily and rolls.

The plugged ball is a tough shot to hit compared to a normal shot because you can’t give it much spin. In addition, many golfers use the same technique as normal instead of making the necessary adjustments, which makes things much more difficult.

If you notice that your ball is plugged, here’s what you should do:

  • Set up as usual, with a wide stance, a good bend in the knees, and face the target. You can use your usual club (be it a sand wedge or a lob wedge).
  • Next, place the club face square instead of open. This will make it easier for you to hit down.
  • You want to hit down on the shot but leave the club in the sand.

This should get the ball out of the bunker. Expect the ball to come out with a forward spin, so play accordingly. If you don’t have a lot of space between you and the flagstick, try landing the ball in the rough to reduce its speed and spin.

📋 To conclude on the golf lees

As you can see, there are a ton of places your ball can end up on the golf course.

Once you have mastered the art of assessing your lie and how the ball will react, everything becomes easier. Now, before playing a shot, try to determine the best way to hit it to lose a minimum of points in relation to the course.

It’s a good idea to stand over the ball as if you were about to play it to see the slope, grass, and everything around the ball before you play your shot. Then think about how the trajectory of the ball will change, pick up your club, and make any necessary adjustments when setting up.

Finally, remember to assess your golf lie and intended move!

See Also: How to improve your golf swing?

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