Mexico Open at Vidanta

Vidanta Vallarta

Approach Shots

Don't Mess Up Those Lucky Lies In The Rough

By Butch Harmon Photos by J.D. Cuban
July 18, 2016

You miss the fairway by a yard or two and find yourself with a perched lie in the first cut. Sweet, right? You feel like you could launch a driver off that lie. The challenge is that if you take your normal swing, you risk sliding under the ball and making contact on the top part of the clubface. There's no power there. You get kind of a sickening, hollow impact, and the ball comes out with no zip.

The reason that happens is, when you drive your legs on the downswing, it causes the clubhead to move down into the turf. That's great when you have a normal lie, but when the ball is fluffed up, you have to make a few adjustments.

First, stand taller at address and hold the clubhead up at the level of the ball (inset, below). Take your normal backswing, then make a quieter shift with your lower body as you start down. Stay tall through the strike and get the sensation that your arms swing past you (below). You want to make more of a sweeping motion to deliver the center of the clubface to the ball. I know it goes against what you've been told—hit down and through—but this is a special case.

Get it right, and you can use about any club from this lie, even the driver. Just remember, stand tall and keep your legs quiet.


When golfers face a tight lie in the fairway, they tend to hang back and try to help the ball up. That's a killer—they either hit behind it or catch it thin. You want your weight to move in the direction the club is swinging. Club goes back, weight goes back; club moves forward, weight moves forward. That's how you make solid contact.