Short Game

Don't Let Tight Lies Beat You

August 26, 2016

Most of the time, you're probably rooting for your ball to stay in the fairway. But what about when you're 30 yards from the green, on really tight grass? Be honest: You'd probably rather see it sitting on a nice pillow of light rough.

The tight lie pitch doesn't have to be so scary. "Closely mowed grass makes players nervous because they think they need perfect execution--so they force it," says Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher and tour short game instructor Stan Utley. "If you're falling back or pulling the club through instead of swinging it, you'll tend to hit thin shots. Your reaction will be to move the ball back in your stance, which forces you to hit down steeply, leaving a tiny window for a good shot to happen."

The fix is simple. Don't be afraid to use your sand wedge, and set up with your feet narrow, shoulders level and left arm soft, Utley says. "If you hyperextend your left arm, that tips your shoulders back and moves the bottom of your swing way behind the ball," says Utley. "Play the ball in the center of your stance, and let the club's sole skim the grass."