Finger Lakes Golf: Rolling Terrain

The Finger Lakes region offers many scenic and challenging golf courses. It has every style golf course, from links style to the traditional North American. One thing that makes all of these courses similar is the rolling to hilly terrain common to the area.

Most amateurs, and especially the mid-to high-handicap golfers, find the uphill, downhill, and side hill lies, which they frequently encounter, very difficult at best to negotiate. You will find handling these once dreaded lies will become much simpler if you follow some basic principles.

DOWNHILL LIE: Since your leading foot will be lower than your back foot, the first key is to flex the knee of your back leg so it is level or near level to the front knee. Next, since the effective loft of the club required is less, use a more lofted club, at least two less clubs. Allow your shoulders to tilt at the same angle as the slope of the hill in your address position and then swing the club down the hill rather than up into the air in your follow through. Be sure not to try to lift or scoop the ball into the air.

UPHILL LIE: Doing just the opposite, use a less-lofted club as the ball will shoot up into the air quickly. Flex the front knee more to level out your stance and allow the clubhead to follow the slope of the hill in your follow through. You want to be sure that you don’t bang the club into the hill with this particular lie.

Taking the right approach and a little practice will enable you to handle these lies. Sodus Bay Heights Golf Club is known for these challenging lies, and when I was hired as the golf professional in 1980, I didn’t have a great deal of experience with these lies. I practiced the same basics as above, and soon became very proficient.

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by Paul M. Carter, Club Professional, Sodus Bay Heights Golf Club

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