How to Hit A Tight Lie

As a low handicap golfer, I encounter a tight lie several times a round. It is a shot that I have learned to manage over the years, but I am always looking for new ways to improve on what I have learned to date. Hitting shots off a tight lie is a bit more difficult that one would think because of the multiple opportunities to hit the ball thin or fat. But have no fear, Hale Irwin has some great advice that might make your shot making off tight lies easier and more productive.

To clear up what I mean about tight lies, I found this definition that will add the basis for further discussion. A tight lie is when the golf ball is sitting with an eighth of an inch or less space beneath it, on a surface so firm you can’t take a normal divot. You can pick the ball in a sweeping, bump-and-run motion with a low-loft club. (

Over the years, I have developed several techniques using different clubs. The toughest was always my 56 degree sand wedge. The bounce was an issue at first until I learned what Hale discusses (trying not to give away his teaching point). I also use different clubs, but that is discussion for another day.

Here is what Hale has to say:

The biggest challenge I had in the past was not opening my club face slightly to help hit the ball cleanly off a tight lie. This slight move allowed my clubface to square on contact and to help eliminate me hitting the ball fat. I practiced for many hours to find the right club positioning on a tight lie and it paid off. Now I am confident hitting out of tight lies and I would choose those shots of many others around the green.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


4 thoughts on “How to Hit A Tight Lie

  1. Jim, this shot gives me problems because I have a tendency to hit all shots with a soft left elbow. If I break down that lever even a bit off a tight lie, hello skinny screamer. I counter by trying to firm up my left arm on every short shot, especially off these tight lies. It’s a little awkward because firming up feels mechanical and it’s right before a touch shot. Definitely requires practice.

    As warm as December was in the DMV, January has been the opposite and I haven’t touched a club all month. Hoping for a February warm up so I can get some reps in before my 5-day tournament in Myrtle Beach. Would hate to go down there with no prep. How’s your DIY station in the garage, got that up and running yet?



    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,
      I hope you get a chance to use your clubs before your trip. I am sure there is an indoor place at the very least you could use. My DIY hitting net is not set up. It is very cold here this year (-30 C or -20 F). I still have a few weeks before it is warm enough to start swinging clubs in the garage. I am starting my physical training. It is still slow and I am still doing physio for my nagging injuries. The good thing is that they are feeling better.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mr. Irwin’s instruction here was great. I believe this video leaves out some things though. Like when you’re on an upslope or downslope we need to level our shoulders to the slope. And different grasses can require a few adjustments as well. You’re going to want a bit more bounce on a wet uphill lie when you’re on Bermuda grass. Otherwise it’s going to grab your club and send it right to the ground. But it’s good advice just the same. The short game is so under rated by too many amateurs. It’s really the easiest to learn to control and it’s the biggest stroke saver bar none.

    I’ve witnessed 3 eagles from chip ins this week. Two on Monday and one on Tuesday. None were mine, but I got to witness them at least. I must have hit the flag 8 times in the 3 rounds I played. Not one fell, but they all left me close enough not to miss coming back. Our wedges are our primary weapons for making birdies and saving pars. I thankfully learned that early by having my butt kicked on the course by little old men who couldn’t hit the ball farther than 150 yards but never seemed to miss inside 100. If that don’t teach ya, nothing will.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin,

      I do not think I could write enough articles talking about the importance of the short game. It really is where most strokes are lost. I know I learned that lesson early in my playing days and have not looked back. Three eagles in one week, I rarely see that in a year! They are nice to watch regardless of who is making them.

      Cheers Jim


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