Making the Most of Tight Lies


It’s August—and that means steady hot weather and sparse rain. And when you’re on the golf course, this type of weather leads to changing course conditions. One of the most common consequences of hot, dry weather is baked out turf and hardpan. And you know what that means: the dreaded “tight lie.”

A tight lie refers to when your ball comes to rest on a dry surface with little or no grass underneath. It’s one of the trickiest and most beguiling shots in golf. But luckily there are a few things you can do to improve your odds from this challenging position:

  • Use more club. When your ball is on a tight lie, using a longer club can be to your advantage. That’s because tight lies generally force you to play a lower shot. And you can make up for lost distance by taking a little more club.
  • Grip lower. By gripping down on your club, you gain more control over your swing. And this is critical for a tight lie shot where precision is key. But make sure you don’t lower your grip too much—about half an inch is perfect.
  • Play the ball further back in your stance. With a tight lie, hitting the ball first is critical. You have a better chance of doing that by moving the ball back in your stance. And if your lie is especially bad, don’t be afraid to exaggerate this. The key is creating a steep angle into the ball at impact. This is especially true for chip and pitch shots.
  • Use spin. If you’re on a course where tight lies are common, chances are good you’ll experience major benefits if you know how to use backspin. That’s because backspin can keep an errant shot from continuing to roll past the target. Practice hitting down on the ball  to increase backspin.
  • Embrace the tight lie. Don’t dread this kind of lie. It’s going to happen. Many pro golfers actually like to see their ball on an extremely dry, flat surface—especially near the green—because it’s a predictable situation that gives them a chance to utilize backspin and control. Just keep practicing shots in tight lie situations, and you’ll be embracing them in no time. It’s August after all and it’s not getting any cooler—yet.

While tight lies can be tricky, they are easily tamable through deliberate practice—just like every other shot in golf. By staying focused and following these tips, you’ll learn to conquer the dreaded tight lie. And who knows—maybe you’ll start looking forward to them!


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