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The Loop

Tiger's Downhill-Lie Tip

November 13, 2008

Golf Digest reader __Chuck Nissman__has a question on Tiger's Tip ("Slope Play") in the December issue:



I was always taught that the ball tends to fly left from downhill lies because of the tendency to come over the top and pull the shot. On page 43 Tiger recommends opening the club face on downhill lies to encourage a high fade: However, Tom Anderson feels that downhill lies tend to go to the right (pages 124 & 125).


Please let me know the general belief about the ball flight on up hill and downhill lies.

Chuck, though you may be correct that a lot of us tend to come over this shot, the basic mechanics--or physics--of it dictate that the ball will go right (for righthanders). It's harder to square the clubface on a shot from a downhill lie because, as Tiger says, the slope will accelerate your body turn and hold the cluface open." That results in a left-to-right ball flight. Tiger is saying, don't fight that. On the uphill shot he's addressing, he goes further: Open the face, play for the fade and get the ball up to reach that elevated green because the open face may help get the ball up sooner.

Conversely, from an uphill lie, you tend to hit the ball left because it's easier to close the clubface (your body movement is hurrying that process, not impeding it) and you tend to hit the ball with a slightly closed face.

As you say, though, there's the complication of the golfer fighting the tendency to hit the shot one way or another, but rule of thumb: downhill lie, ball goes right; uphill lie, ball goes left.

Good question, though. More Tiger Tips at and from Tiger's instructor Hank Haney at

--Bob Carney