How To Have Confidence When Playing From Bad Lies

I’m very happy to introduce to GolfBlogger readers the first in a series of articles on game improvement from Adam Bazalgette, Director of Golf Instruction at The Club at Mediterra in Naples Florida.

by Adam Bazalgette

Part of the challenge of the game of golf is playing from bad lies. In this article I will discuss the conditions on the ground that the ball finds itself in, not side slopes etc.

Two elements of dealing with poor lies often are overlooked. The first is mentally accepting the situation. Again it is part of the challenge and variety of playing the game. When a player gets frustrated, or feels that it is unfair they can rarely focus their efforts properly on what to do.

The other element often overlooked is having a clear idea how the ball is likely to react from different lies after it lands. Failing to assess this can often lead to failing to get out of trouble. I will deal with this as I go along.

There are all sorts of bad lies, but I will deal with the two most common.

The bare, or “Hard pan” lie, is one where there is no cushion under the ball, often bare smooth dirt or very sparse ground. This is often found under trees. The key here is that the club shaft must be leaning forward (de lofting the club) at impact. This tilts the clubface against the ball when there is no cushion underneath it, and it helps the golfer avoid striking the ground before the ball.

This kind of impact to some extent is the desired position for almost any shot played without a tee, and is the result of good fundamentals. However, it can be accentuated by moving your ball position back in your stance, and feeling more like you are hitting a punch shot. This will de-loft the club a little, so take a slightly more lofted club if you need to get the ball over something in front of you.

Even when well-executed you will likely make contact near the bottom of the clubface, which adds backspin and reduces distance a little, so factor that in.

The other common bad lie is when the ball is sitting down in thick or tall grass. In this article I am commenting on a full shot from this situation, not a greenside shot.

To play this shot you must strike sharply down near the back of the ball. If you sweep the club in to the shot on a level approach you will get too much grass caught between club and ball, and will lose a lot of distance.

To do this, adopt an approach similar to that of the tight lie. Play the ball back in your stance, select a more lofted club (far too many golfers try to hit fairway woods and long irons), and swing the club authoritatively down on the back of the ball. Expect a more abbreviated finish, which can be quite compatible with a forceful swing.

Unlike the tight lie, when struck properly this shot will come out low and “Hot,” and will tend to run a lot.

Practice these lies, relish the challenges of the game, and I’m confident you will improve.

About The Author:

Adam Bazalgette grew up in London, England, where he took up golf. He has been teaching golf full-time since 1992.  Adam worked for David Leadbetter in Orlando and in 1994 was promoted to the Academy Director at the Leadbetter’s Naples facility.  Adam currently is the director of golf instruction at The Club at Mediterra in Naples Florida and has held this position for the last 6 years.  Make sure to visit his site at for private lessons if your going to be in the Naples Florida area.

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2 thoughts on “How To Have Confidence When Playing From Bad Lies”

  1. Thanks for the tips, Adam. The ultimate goal for many golfers, especially high handicaps, hitting from these lies, may not be to reach the green but to get the ball back in the fairway advancing it as far as possible.

  2. Well explained Adam,

    For hard pan lies in particular your advice is spot on.

    I was in one of these last Sunday and played a knock down type shot with an 8 iron. The ball came out a little bit skinny but still had the right direction and shape to get to the green safely in two.

    Great tip to take to the golf course.


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