When you end up with a golf ball below your feet, meaning the ball is sitting in a depression in the ground, it can present some challenges. Having the ball below foot level changes your swing mechanics and makes it harder to make solid contact. However, with a few adjustments to your setup, posture, ball position, and swing, you can learn how to hit a golf ball below your feet effectively. This article outlines tips to help you hit better golf shots when the ball is below your feet.
Adjust Your Setup and Posture
The first thing to focus on when hitting a golf ball below your feet is your setup and posture. Since the ground level has changed under your feet, you need to adjust to match it. Stand closer to the ball with your feet together. Bend your knees to achieve good balance and athletic posture. You may need to bend forward more at the hips to compensate for the lower ball position. Align your body parallel left of the target line to help square the clubface at impact.
Use an Open Stance
An open stance is key for hitting fairway woods or long irons out of depression lies. Turn your front foot out at a 45-degree angle away from the target line. Keep your back foot aligned perpendicularly behind the front. This open stance levels your spine and shoulders to be more parallel to the slope of the ground under your feet. It also helps you make a flatter, more sweeping swing along that plane.
Play the Ball Back in Your Stance
When hitting a ball below your feet, you need to play the ball back from its normal position. For middle iron shots, play it off your back heel instead of the middle or front of your stance. For drivers and fairway woods, play it aligned with or behind your back heel. This positions your body behind the ball better on the downswing to compress it cleanly. It also encourages hitting up on the ball more steeply with added loft to compensate for the downward slope.
Grip Down on the Club
Gripping down an inch or so lower on the club effectively shortens the length of the shaft. This makes it easier to control your swing on the uneven lie. Choke down until your swing feels compact and balanced. A shorter, more upright swing keeps you from getting too steep or making poor contact with buried lies below your feet.
Follow a More Upright Swing Plane
The change in terrain calls for adjusting your swing plane to be more upright. Maintain good posture as you make a shorter, more compact backswing. Start the downswing by bumping your hips towards the target, then pull the handle down close to your body. This helps swing the club upwards into the back of the ball for crisp contact. Followthrough fully over your front shoulder. An upright release also adds loft and backspin to elevate shots from a lowered angle.
Use Creative Stance Adjustments
Sometimes a severe downhill slope requires getting extra creative with your stance. In extreme cases, try standing directly behind the ball first. Take your grip, then take side steps into your stance without realigning your shoulders. This retains an upright swing to match the lie without twisting your body. Rotating the face open slightly can also help straighten ball flight.
Pick Less Aggressive Clubs
The uneven lie below your feet hampers your ability to make solid, consistent contact. Don’t try to overpower difficult downhill shots. Using shorter, high-lofted clubs is smart strategy. Hit one club higher than normal by grabbing a 7-iron instead of a 6-iron for example. The extra loft helps lift shots higher from the downward angle created below your feet.
Practice Uneven Lies First
Trying to hit golf balls below your feet can be frustrating if you aren’t used to it. Spend meaningful practice time at the driving range rehearsing these challenging lies. Many facilities have areas set aside specifically for practicing from uneven turf or mats. Start by making simple half-swings focusing on solid contact before trying full power shots. Mastering impact first establishes proper technique.
Play for Consistent Contact
Uneven lies often result in some distance loss and directional mishits. Don’t get obsessed with distance control when the ball gets positioned below your feet. The primary goals are making consistently crisp contact for adequate distance and getting the ball airborne towards your target. Leave your ego in the bag and make a smooth swing that finds the sweet spot. Preventing chunks, skulls and bladed shots is a win from bad lies.
Be Ready to Improvise Your Target
Shots hit off angled turf don’t always fly straight or land softly. Be prepared to adjust your intermediate target accordingly. Aim left of the ultimate target if the ball is below your front foot to allow for a pull. Or aim wider right if it’s below your back foot causing a push. Pick landing zones that accept a lower or longer shot. Uphill slopes, bunker edges and water hazards become less friendly. Focus more on the quality and safety of each shot.
Lean into the Slope During Your Swing
To compensate for the uneven terrain, leaning your upper body into the slope during the swing can pay dividends. From address, feel like you are leaning away from the higher side to counteract the angle more. Maintain this rightward or leftward spine tilt during the backswing. Then maintain it as you start down by bumping your hips towards the target. This athletic motion helps you swing cleanly along the angled slope plane.
Ask for a Free Drop If Possible
The rules of golf permit taking a free drop from an awkward stance or lie in many situations without penalty. You are generally allowed relief from temporary obstructions, ground under repair and even grassy divots. Always check the rule book based on your specific conditions. Don’t feel pressure to hit a heroic shot. Instead take advantage of a free drop no nearer the hole to remove the uneven lie disadvantage when appropriate.
Having to hit shots with the ball below your feet can be one of golf’s greatest challenges. The feet are no longer on level ground making it harder to swing effectively. However, by wisely adjusting setup factors like stance, ball position, and posture, you can learn to make solid contact even with the ball sitting too low. Remaining flexible, patient and avoiding expectation is also key. With practice and course management strategy, you can save strokes even when the turf gives you a bad break. By applying these tips for hitting balls below your feet, you can reduce frustration and score better.