Golf shots are rarely hit under perfect conditions. Every strike you put on the ball has some sort of variable that makes hitting the shot that much harder. Whether it’s wind, lie or stance, something will be a little off, forcing you to make adjustments to hit the proper shot.
This is true even at the most famous courses in the world. Take Augusta National, for example. Although the grounds are pristine as they come, the land has some funky contours. Even in the fairway at Augusta, you’ll rarely have a flat lie.
The 10th hole is a prime example. With a routing that takes players from the high point of the property near the clubhouse down a hill to the green, the second shot is typically played off a downhill lie. If a player wants to claim a green jacket, they must have success off all sorts of awkward lies.
Trevor Immelman knows this fact well. During his march to a Masters victory in 2008, he was forced to hit off numerous uphill, downhill and sidehill lies from the fairway — and he had a fair amount of success, too. By Sunday night, he was donning the green jacket after holding off Tiger Woods and a host of other contenders.
With such success on the awkward slopes of Augusta National, we asked Immelman to give us a few tips for hitting off downhill lies in this edition of Pros Teaching Joes. Check out the video above, or read below for more.
3 keys for hitting off downhill lies
1. Low — and long — takeaway
With your ball on a downhill lie, it’s easy to get your weight over your front foot and forget to finish your backswing. To combat this, Immelman likes to focus on a takeaway that’s low to the ground, putting an emphasis on making sure to finish the backswing.
“Try to make sure that the takeaway stays nice and low,” Immelman says. “Because then I can still complete my turn and not rush the transition. What I would find, like I said, is pick it up, not turning enough, you’re hanging on your left side, and then as you start to transition you’re way in front of the ball and clubface management becomes difficult.”
2. Don’t try to help the ball up
It can be hard to get the proper height on your shot from a downhill lie. With the club delofted a bit and your weight so far forward, the ball will tend to come out low. But that’s ok. As Immelman explains, you don’t need to try to help the ball up. That, he says, will only lead to even more issues.
“Don’t try and help it up,” Immelman says. “Because a lot of times then you’re going to be moving backwards and you’re going to hit behind the ball and lose all of that contact.”
3. Move with the slope
The final thing to keep in mind when hitting off a downslope is to swing with the slope. This means your weight should be shifting with the slope to keep the low point in your swing consistent.
“Once you’ve done that stuff we spoke about with the backswing and you come down here, move with the slope,” Immelman says. “Don’t be afraid to drive it a little lower. It’s going to come out a little lower. As soon as you hang back, you’re going to lose the low point in your swing and your contact is going to suffer.”