Ever hit that perfect draw off the tee, right down the middle of the fairway only to walk up and find your ball perfectly settled in an unfixed divot? Or what about when you snap hook one 50 yards left only to discover that your ball has found its resting place propped up on a nice dense patch of grass?

Your ball lands where your ball lands. Once it leaves your clubface you have absolutely no control over where it goes, just as you have absolutely no control over how it sits on the ground.

So next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel you caught a bad break, stop dwelling on it, examine your lie and follow the tips below to get yourself out of trouble.

Sidehill Lies

If the ball is above your feet it’s going to hook. If it’s below your feet it’s going to slice. Depending on how severe the slope is, you’ll need to aim accordingly.

When the ball is above your feet it’s going to be closer to you so you have to choke up on the club in order to make solid contact. If you don’t, chances are you’ll hit it fat.

When the ball is below your feet, you’re farther away and since you can’t make your club any longer than it already is, you’ll need to move a couple inches closer so you don’t have to reach.

In both cases, take a firm stance and focus on making solid contact with the ball. Don’t lunge or pull back, it won’t work.

Tight Lies (Ball is on Hardpan)

Most amateurs hate tight lies but pros love them. The tighter the lie, the more spin you can put on the ball and while you may cringe at the sight of your ball laying on a patch of dirt, it’s not as bad as it looks.

With any solidly struck golf shot, the ball is hit before the ground and that’s what you need to focus on when hitting these shots. Don’t try to take a big divot, just try to clip the ball. If you hit it correctly, your ball will hit the green and stop on a dime.

Heavy Lies (Ball is Deep in the Rough)

The most important part of dealing with a ball deep in the rough is to first realize that simply advancing it may be the best option. In some instances the green may be out of play.

It is very difficult to make contact with balls that are in deep rough and even if you are skilled enough to get it in the air, the ball will hit any surface with little to no spin. In general, when your club goes through the rough on its way to the ball, the grass will grab the housel and close the face. As a result, most balls generally end up being pulled.

When you’re in this situation, move the ball back in your stance a little bit and try to get steeper on your downswing. Visualize the head of your club coming down right on the back of the ball and try to keep the face square through impact. By doing so you’ll prevent the clubhead from being turned over by the grass.

Ball is Buried in Bunker (Fried Egg)

When you have a fried egg in the bunker getting the ball on the putting surface should be the only thing on your mind. Don’t try to get cute, just dig it out.

With most bunker shots you want to put the ball up in your stance a little bit and open the face of your club but with buried lies you want to do just the opposite. Square the face of your club, put the ball in the middle of your stance and pick a spot about an inch behind the ball. Take your backswing and aim directly for that spot, accelerating all the way through your swing. If you do it right you’ll blast out a good deal of sand but your ball will get into the air and onto the green.

Regardless of where your ball comes to rest, examining your lie is extremely important. Pros even examine which direction the grass is laying and while most of us may not be good enough for that to make a difference, it’s still important to understand how the ground will affect the flight of your ball.

Slow Golf Play

Slow play may very well be one of the most annoying things you’ll ever experience on a golf course. Similar to being stuck in rush hour traffic on a perfectly sunny day, a six hour 18-hole round can make you want to strangle every single person you walk by.

Slow play has developed into one of the biggest issues plaguing the game today. From local club championships and junior events, to collegiate golf and even the PGA (and LPGA) Tour, it’s slowly making golf less and less enjoyable for anyone who plays.

Unfortunately for those of us who know how to play an 18-hole round in 4 hours, the culprits of slow play can’t be fined or even penalized like they can be on the PGA Tour, and as a result, local clubs have to deal with this issue on their own.

If slow play is a huge problem at your club, talk to your local pro about getting something done. You can even give him a few pointers from the list below and he can relay them to the rest of the members.

Play the Right Set of Tees – Golf is more enjoyable when you’re playing well. If it’s taking you four shots to hit every green and you’re losing two balls a hole, you’re not going to have fun.

If you’re a 20 handicap, don’t play the back tees. The other ones are there for a reason, so use them. Record a good score, give yourself some looks at birdie and above all keep things moving.

Hit When Ready – There’s nothing more frustrating than playing with the guy who waits until everyone has hit to start his pre-shot routine.

If you’re in a foursome and you’ve found your ball, take out a club and be ready to hit when it’s your turn. You don’t even have to be away to hit. If you’re playing partners are looking for a ball and you’re ready to go, just go.

Hit Provisionals – Most people aren’t aware of this rule, but you can hit a provisional anytime you want.

If there’s even the slightest chance your ball went out of bounds, don’t risk having to walk all way back to the tee to hit another shot. Hit a provisional. There’s absolutely no penalty and in the event that your ball did get an unlucky bounce, you won’t have to waste time playing the hole over again.

Be Realistic – You’re not a pro. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time on a difficult shot or inspecting your lie before you hit but do you really need to back off your putt because a bird chirped in the woods?

If you aren’t sure about your shot then tell someone else to hit but don’t throw grass in the air three times trying to gauge the wind. No one is going to criticize you for wanting to get better but don’t do it at the expense of other golfers.

Though we may not all be members at historic venues like Olympic Club or Augusta National, it doesn’t mean we can’t take in the “Pro Golfer” experience. There are literally hundreds of courses littered throughout the U.S. that require only a set of clubs, a collared shirt and a couple hundred dollars.

The list below is compromised of a few of these courses. So next time you’re planning a golf trip with your buddies, take a detour, splurge a little bit and get a chance to play a course where history was made.

Pebble Beach Golf Links – Monterey Peninsula, California – In terms of history, Pebble Beach is second to none. Host to five U.S. Opens and one PGA Championship, Pebble continuously ranks as the top public golf course in the country.

Even if you’re not playing, you can drive up and walk the entire course and if you can’t get on, there are some pretty nice courses in close proximity.

 Bethpage State Park – Farmingdale, New York – Host to two past U.S. Opens, the Black Course at Bethpage State Park is among the hardest venues in the country.

There usually is a wait list of some type to get on and if you’re handicap isn’t low enough they may suggest that you to play an easier course in the park. In the 2002 U.S. Open, only one player finished under par; his name was Tiger Woods.

 The Ocean Course – Kiawah Island, South Carolina – Another course known for its difficulty, The Ocean Course stands at 7,600 yards long from the back tees and if you watched the PGA Championship last year you know how difficult it can be.

Luckily there are other sets of tees that are more appropriate for the average golfer. The course also was the site of the War by the Shore (1991 Ryder Cup). So if you do play, tee it up on hole No. 17 and get the feeling that all those pros got when they fell apart over 20 years ago.

 TPC Sawgrass – Pontre Vedra Beach, Florida – From a design perspective, TPC Sawgrass is in a league of its own. Put together by the famously diabolical Pete Dye, this course is a must play if you’re a serious golfer and the par 3 17th island green is unlike anything you’ll ever experience.

 Pinehurst Resort No. 2 – Pinehurst, North Carolina – This course dates back to the 1800’s and with a rich history of tradition, it shouldn’t be passed over if you’re playing golf in the state of North Carolina. The resort also includes seven other extremely high-end venues, so if you can’t get on No. 2, you’ll have somewhere to go.

Tiger Woods Torrey Pines Golf Course – La Jolla, California – Play the course that Tiger Woods has made a living on since he was a youngster. Nestled on the cliffs of La Jolla, CA, Torrey Pines has provided players with great golf and breathtaking views for over 50 years. When you get on the 18th green, drop a ball in the spot where Tiger hit arguably the most clutch putt in the history of golf, you’ll get chills down your spine.

PGA West (Stadium Course)– La Quinta, California – You don’t hear too much about PGA West and for good reason. In 1987 it hosted the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and after the tournament, a large group of professionals petitioned to have it removed from the PGA Tour.

From then on it’s been known as the only course that was too hard for the professionals. If you’re ever in La Quinta, tee it up and see how you do.

St. Andrews Links – Fife, Scotland – The game of golf was born here. Enough said.

Over the past 10 or 15 years, fitness has become an enormous part of golf. The days of 250 pound professionals playing 18-hole rounds and then going to the bar for 10 or 12 cold ones is long gone.

Granted, some pro golfers are 250 pounds and some still drink 10 or 12 cold ones after their round but almost every single one of the guys you see at the top of leaderboard these days takes their exercise routine very seriously. And they should.

Tiger Woods was the face of fitness among golfers for many years but over the past decade, college programs and personal trainers have made lifting weights and staying in shape an important part of any golfer who dreams of playing at a high level.

Without getting too in depth, the list below provides some quick and easy exercises you can do at home or in your local gym to get headed in the right direction.

Stretch – Flexibility is without a doubt, one of the most critical traits of a golfer with a good swing. Proper positions throughout the swing require the body to be put in some fairly straining positions. By making stretching a part of your everyday routine, your body will become better equipped to effortlessly contort throughout your swing.

Stretching is also extremely important in preventing injury, especially when adopting a weight lifting routine. So don’t wait until the first tee to touch your toes. Stretch early and often.

Build a Strong Base – Your swing starts from the ground up. Similar to how a building needs a strong foundation to remain standing, your body needs a strong base to remain balanced. Without balance, you’ll accomplish nothing. Do 40 or 50 body weight squats two or three times a week and watch as it translates into results on the course.

Don’t Get Too Top Heavy – Often times, weight lifting can get addicting. We all have a desire to get bigger and stronger as fast as we can. DON’T. Your upper body has a lot less to do with your swing than you think, and it virtually has no effect on how far you hit the ball. If you want to look like a football player then go play football but don’t expect your drives to fly farther because you can bench press 300 pounds. Stick to push-ups and pull-ups and leave the real heavy weights out of it for the time being.

Focus on Your Core – Club head speed comes from generating lag by rotating your midsection through the swing. Because of this, a strong core is imperative to a powerful game. Make sit-ups and trunk twists a part of your everyday routine. In addition to helping your game, you’ll be able to get ready for beach season by burning off some of those unwanted calories around your midsection.

If you are serious about golf, consult a personal trainer. While these pointers can get you started on a good routine, you’ll need a professional to lay out a specific plan as you move forward and develop a better understanding of what you want to accomplish.

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