How To Assess And Play Shots From Multiple Lies

Stan Utley

Stan Utley

SwingU Master Faculty, Golf Digest Top 50 in America

As a Tour player and somewhat of a genius around the greens – and I would consider anybody that’s probably a six-to-eight handicap or better is somewhat genius – at assessing the lie.

Now, I want to, I want you to understand what I mean by that. Like, here, I have two lies, both in the short cut, I’ve got about eight feet of fringe to go over, then I got about 25 feet of downhill on the green to go. But the difference in these two lies, is even though they’re in the short grass, this lie in the grass is growing with the ball, this lie of the grass is growing into the ball. So you see, when I chip it’s gonna rough up.

Well, that effects how my lead edge and the bounce interact with the ball. So anytime you have a chip that’s down grain, it’s very easy to get your club to skid. But if you make an error with the shaft forward, when your into the grain, that lead edge will grab the grass. So this one to me is pretty easy, I can just get the bounce to slide right through the ball, through the grass. And it’s going to skip right out. This one I got to pay a little more attention to, so that I don’t get it hung up in the grass.

Now as we move back, here I’ve got a grass where it’s kind of a short rough, or short fringe. It’s not as good as the tight lie. But I have to realize it now that there’s going to be more grass between the club head and the ball, the ball is going to actually backspin less. So I need to take into account.

How clean can I hit the ball for how much backspin I get; that really affects the rollout. So this shot, I can swing easier on this shot, because it’s not going to have as much backspin and it’s going to roll out a little quicker than they would offer short cut.

Now as I moved to the next lie, this ball is sitting way down in the deep fescue. So I have to realize that there’s going to be a lot of grass between my clubface and the ball. And I’m going to hit this little splash shot out of this long grass, land the club well behind the ball.

So I need to play this shot with more loft, because I need to pitch it up in the air because it’s going to chase and run because it’s not gonna have hardly any backspin on it at all. So this shot’s gonna be kind of a soft pitch.

I caught it a little hot. So it came out fast out of that lie. But I’ve got to guess how hard to swing based on the balls not going to have much spin.

Now this last shot, I found a little bit of dried out thin lie grass. And it’s very tight, but it also looks kind of damp under it. So I’ve got to make sure that I don’t run the lead edge into the ground soft, because it’ll stick in the ground. So this shot it really requires me to decide, am I gonna lean left and hit the ball first? Or am I gonna lean the shaft back and use the bounce? And for a lot of this tight, I’m going to swing the club shaft to try to nip the ball first and just pitch and run it.

So I took a little bit of turf with the lead edge, but because I hit the ball first, I gotta clean strike, it checked pretty hard and then rolled down to the cup.

So work on assessing your lie and predicting what does the spin do to the rollout.