How PGA Championship Players Prepare for Uneven Lies
By Keith Stewart, PGA
A big part of the preparation needed to contend at the 104th PGA Championship will require getting comfortable hitting successful shots from uneven lies. As I walked the practice tee, I was wondering how these elite players prepare for a course like Southern Hills. Thankfully, I ran into two PGA Coaches: Joanna Coe and Steve Scott on the tee. Both are not only incredible instructors, but they also actively compete in national championships as players.
Each had a great perspective on my question. All practice ranges are level. Perry Maxwell’s magnificent layout rolls across an awesome landscape. There are no level lies on the property outside of the range. Coe was the first to offer a suggestion. The Director of Instruction at famed Merion Golf Club in Philadelphia works with her students on this skill all the time.
“I look for areas around the range where the lies aren’t flat. We cannot hit balls from those spots, but we go there to take practice swings” mentions Joanna.
Everyone has a spot around their practice facility where you can find one hill.
Take a mid-iron to that spot and start swinging along the grass.
Watch for where the swing touches the ground.
Make sure you adjust your posture, ball position and center of gravity based upon where you see that contact with the grass.
Rotate in a complete circle stopping every ninety degrees.
Doing so will allow you to practice sidehill, uphill and downhill lies.
Coe sees this as way to experience an uneven surface and test yourself. After all, what is practice? It is opportunity to work on a skill you will need to apply during your round. Getting used to seeing and feeling where you contact the ground, and you’ll benefit from it the next time you're faced with an unbalanced lie.
Steve Scott will be watching the coverage through a monitor this week for ESPN+ as an expert analyst. His approach favored taking his practice to the course. He encourages his students, when possible, to look for uneven lies while they play casually. He loves to hit shots from different lies on the same hole. The experience really helps determine his body position during the shot. Scott’s perspective, “When you play two shots on the same hole from different slopes, you quickly feel a big difference in your body and your balance.”
Feeling how your body and the ball react will make a lasting impression. The perfect type of training needed for any player. All amateurs struggle at times bringing their range game to the course. Steve’s strategy succinctly allows you a way around that challenge for sloppy shots.
Some readers won’t have the opportunity to play multiple shots while playing. For you, use Joanna’s technique. Amateurs who can go to the course, try Steve’s approach. Those who can do both, try each of them and monitor the results.