A lot of you may play great golf on flat courses where there are no hills but suffer bad scores on courses that have lots of hills. I personally grew up playing very, very hilly golf courses and practically 90% of all my shots were either downhill, uphill, or sidehill.
If you don’t know how to hit these shots, you might want to keep reading as I can show you that they are not that hard, you just need to understand the fundamentals behind it.
How to Hit Downhill Shots!
Downhill shots are probably the hardest of them all to hit because most of the time, the downhill slope de-lofts your clubface. For example, on a downhill shot, your pitching wedge will be more like a 9-iron or even 8-iron, depending on the angle of the slope.
Here’s THREE simple rules to remember about downhill shots:
One, setup with your ball further towards your right foot. Because of the downhill slope, your clubface will contact the ground much sooner, meaning you need to place your golf ball where you will hit it, further towards your right foot.
Two, obviously you will need to lean a bit more toward the hillside, the right, otherwise you will lose your balance.
Three, because your ball is now further towards your right foot, you need to aim left as your clubface will be slightly open at impact. Most of the time, I hit a 5-10 yard fade on downhill shots, just a rule of thumb I follow so I aim about 5-10 yards left target.
There’s more things you can do to enhance your downhill shotmaking skills but I am only going to make you learn the first three I mentioned here because these are perhaps the most important. One more thing, try to keep your best balance here and swing smooth and easy. This isn’t the best time to swing all-out.
For golf strategy, when you are on a downhill, your percentages are against you so play the safer shot instead of going for the green.
How to hit Uphill Shots!
Uphill shots are probably the easiest of them all because you are hitting into the slope and usually you can get by hitting it pretty hard.
Uphill shots are just the exact opposite of downhill shots, here’s THREE simple rules to remember about uphill shots:
One, setup with your ball further towards the left foot. Again, the sloper will dictate that the best chance of hitting the ball is further towards the left foot.
Two, again lean a bit more towards the hillside, the left to keep balance.
Three, most likely you will hit a nice little draw because your golf ball is placed further left, aim 5-10 yards right of your target as a general rule of thumb.
For golf strategy, uphill shots are the ones to go for. If you are in a grey area where you could make a potential eagle/birdie by going for the green, by all means, this is the time to go for it, just aim right enough and make sure to follow through all the way to your target on the finish.
How to hit Sidehill Shots!
Sidehill shots are also one of the hardest to master, especially the ones where your body is sitting higher than your golfball.
For sidehill shots when your body is sitting higher than your golf ball, try to stand a bit closer to your golfball and also as tall as possible. From there, make a very smooth and easy swing. Remember, this is one of the most delicate shots (because of the angle) so take it easy!
Also, don’t forget to aim about 5-10 yards left (depending on the side slope) as your ball will be not fading but actually going at a different angle!
When your body is sitting lower than your golf ball, grip down about 1-2 inches on your golf club and make the same golf swing. No need for any changes other than that and also your golf ball will travel slightly from right to left so aim 5-10 yards right. This is much easier shot in my mind (because of the angles) so play more aggressive when you have lies where your golf ball is higher than your body.
For shots that are mix of an uphill and sidehill, you will have to take everything into consideration.
For example, if you have a downhill shot on a right-to-left slope (where your ball is higher than your body), you might want to put the ball slightly right toward the right foot, grip down about an inch on the club, and aim slightly right of the hole. Of course, the aiming part might be completely different depending on how much downhill/sidehill slope you are facing.
The important part is that you actually practice these uphill/downhill/sidehill shots with every club in your bag so you have your own “feel” of how the distance/aiming vary.
Trust me, these are one of the hardest shots to master but they could potentially be your best weapon when you are playing a hilly golf course.
You won’t be able to practice most of these shots on a practice range so I suggest you to practice them on the golf course. When it’s not too busy on the golf course, just make sure to hit 3-4 shots whenever you encounter these hilly shots.
Most importantly, know that you need to make these small adjustments on these shots, even on a slight slope. When you don’t, that might be the reason why you “duff” or “skull” the golf ball because you don’t play the slope, the slope plays you.
Practice, practice, and practice.