5 Pro Tips to Help You Effectively Hit a Tight Lie in Golf
Written by Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with sports for over 30 years. He's been an avid golfer for more than 10 years and is obsessed with watching the Golf Channel and taking notes on a daily basis. He also holds a degree in Sports Psychology.

Updated on January 24, 2024

A tight lie occurs when the golf ball comes to rest at a part of the course where there is very little grass underneath it. When there is little to no grass underneath the golf ball, the golfer cannot take his normal divot while swinging. A lot of folks also refer to a tight lie as a thin shot or a bare lie.

Golfers of every skill level often struggle to hit shots from a tight lie because the margin of error is so slim. Tight lies make it difficult for the golfer to make solid contact because the ball isn’t sitting up. This is why specific clubs for tight lies, from companies like TaylorMade and Adams Golf, have risen in popularity over the years.

There are several common places where tight lies may occur on a golf course. The most common of which is on the fringe around the greens where the grass is extremely short. Tight lies can even occur while in the fairway, especially in the winter months when the grass doesn’t grow as well.

Most golfers, especially high handicappers, are more comfortable with the golf ball up on the tee or at least sitting up nicely on a patch of grass. This is because, in their minds, it is much easier to get the ball in the air when it is elevated.

However, it is possible to still strike the golf ball well even from the tightest of lies. Here are a few tips from various pro golfers.


5 Pro Tips to Hit a Tight Lie

Hale Irwin’s Tips for Hitting Chip Shots with Tight Lies

Hale Irwin was one of the best short game players on the PGA Tour during the prime of his career. Irwin won 20 PGA Tour events including 3 major championships. Here are some of Irwin’s best tips for hitting chips out of tight lies.

  • “Never try to lift the ball when chipping out of a tight lie. If you do, you’ll either hit it too thin or too fat.”
  • “Hit down on the ball to make it go up. You want to have a descending blow.”
  • “Open the clubface a little to add 1 or 2 more degrees of loft on your low-bounce wedge. This will make for a softer landing on the green.”


Phil Mickelson’s Tips for Hitting Chip and Bump and Run Shots

Mickelson has been a fan favorite on the PGA Tour for several decades. The 6-time major champion has won 45 PGA Tour events which is tied for 8th on the all-time list. Here are some of Mickelson’s best tips for hitting chips or bump and run shots from tight lies.

  • “Keep the shaft as vertical as possible during your setup. This will help to get rid of the bounce and allow you to make solid contact with the ball first.”
  • “While addressing the golf ball, stick the toe of the club into the ground. This will help the shot come out like a normal chip.”
  • “As crazy as it sounds, you want to eliminate the sweet spot of the club to keep the ball from coming out too hot.”
  • “When chipping from tight lies, use the same stroke as you would with your putter.”


Moe Norman’s Tips for Pitching Out of Tight Lies

We’ve talked at length on this blog about Moe Norman’s incredible ball-striking ability. Most people don’t know that Norman was a master at hitting shots from tight lies.

Norman learned to play golf in Canada on a municipal course with lots of tight lies called the Rockway. Here’s how to execute Norman’s Rockway Move that he used when hitting out of tight lies. These tips come from Tim Graves, who is known for teaching Norman’s best golf techniques.

  • “When pitching out of tight lies, focus on keeping your back foot flat on the ground at all times.”
  • “Play the golf ball in the middle of your stance with your feet slightly open.”
  • “Make contact with the ball with your back foot still flat on the ground. The hips won’t turn since these shots are only a short distance to the green.”
  • “Remember, there’s no forgiveness when hitting out of tight lies. That’s why it’s so important to keep your head down and completely still. Any type of peeking will cause the shoulders to shift forward and will limit your accuracy.”


Xander Schauffele’s Tips for Hitting Out of Tight Lies

Schauffele is one of the PGA Tour’s brightest young stars, as he has already won four events. The 28-year old is an excellent ball striker and he has some good tips for when hitting out of tight lies. Here is some of Schaffele’s best advice.

  • “You want to make sure you hit the back of the ball. ”
  • “Play the ball off of your right foot.”
  • “Keep the hands ahead of the golf ball.”
  • “You want your hands to return to where they started.”


David Leadbetter Shows How to Hit Fairway Woods from Tight Lies

When most golfers hear the term tight lie, they automatically think of shots that they’ll have to hit with their pitching wedge or sand wedge. However, tight lie shots with a fairway wood or a hybrid can also be very intimidating.

David Leadbetter may not have played on the PGA Tour, but he did play pro golf on both the European and South African Tours. Leadbetter is one of the most famous golf instructors in the world and has coached the likes of Nick Faldo, Lydia Ko, and Michelle Wie. Here are Leadbetter’s top tips for hitting a fairway wood with a tight lie.

  • “Never try to lift the ball. You want to swing down and try to make a small divot in the ground.”
  • “Play the ball toward the middle of your stance just as if you were hitting an iron.”
  • “Be sure to complete your backswing. Too many golfers have a tendency to rush through it.”


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Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with sports for over 30 years. He's been an avid golfer for more than 10 years and is obsessed with watching the Golf Channel and taking notes on a daily basis. He also holds a degree in Sports Psychology.