One of the biggest learning curves in golf is going from hitting long shots down a flat driving range to playing on a course where the ground and weather can be very challenging. Every golfer of every level is going to find themselves having to play a difficult shot throughout a course, and mastering these shots is one of the best ways to improve as a player. If you are looking to get your scores down, these 4 difficult shots need to be practiced and mastered.

Hitting Long Shots Into the Wind

Golf is an all-weather sport, and the wind is one of the most common obstacles you will have to face, especially on a links course. If the wind conditions are tough, you will need to adapt your game to avoid posting high scores. If hitting into the wind, a general rule is to go down one club to have a better chance of reaching the distance you want; for example, if you usually hit the long shot down the fairway with a 6-iron, consider dropping down to a 5-iron. If the wind is strong and likely to seriously impact the direction of your ball flight, you should look to hit your shots lower and under the wind. Put the ball at least one ball back in your stance and put more weight on your lead leg to get your ball flight down. If the wind is blowing across your path, adjust the shot accordingly by either aiming to the right or left. A virtual simulator is one of the best ways to practice hitting in windy conditions, as you can set the weather conditions to exactly how you want them.

Hitting the Ball Out of Long Rough

Long rough is a golfer’s worst nightmare, as it can quickly lead to a high score if you struggle to get your ball free. Determine how the ball is sitting. Does it have some cushion to allow you to get under it and get some loft, or is it buried in the rough? No matter how deep the ball is, you need to beware of grass strands that can snag on the golf club, which could cause it to lose speed and power, reducing your chance of getting the ball free. When hitting the ball make sure you have a tighter grip than usual and put the ball further back in your stance to ensure you hit down and hit the ball before the ground. A point to remember is that it is always better to overhit than under-hit, so make sure you put some power behind your shot. If you are not an experienced golfer, it is much better to simply get the ball back on the fairway; trying to hit a long shot from the rough increases your chance of hitting a poor shot and finding yourself in more trouble. You only want to be hitting out of the rough once. And remember, even the best players in the world have nightmares in the rough, so don’t let the pressure get to you if you hit a duff shot. The best way to master hitting out of the long rough is to practice on an actual course. If playing alone, take the time to put the ball in positions you would do anything to avoid in order to get comfortable playing these difficult shots.

Hitting Shots on a Lie

One of the common mistakes beginner golfers make is not learning how to hit balls on a slope. Unlike the driving range, a golf course isn’t flat, and you will find yourself having to hit tricky shots off a slope. To do this, you have to ensure your feet and arms are in the right position in order to avoid a mishit. To hit balls on an upward slope, create a strong foundation with more weight on your rear foot and grip further down the club to give you more control and reduce the chance of you fatting the ball. As you won’t be hitting the ball with a regular grip, it is recommended to go up an iron if you want to get a good distance from the slope. For a downward slope, you have an increased risk of thinning the ball or missing it altogether. Take a wider stance and position the ball a little further back with your shoulders matched to the slope. In reverse to hitting a ball on an upward slope, you go a club down, as the lowered loft of the ball causes the ball to roll more when it lands, which could easily lead to you overhitting the shot. Practicing these shots can be difficult as you will always be hitting a ball flat off the driving range. The best way to practice is on an actual course. As long as you are not holding up the course or practicing during peak times, use your time on the course to get used to and improve these difficult shots.

The Tee Shot

Your shot off the tee will often dictate how well you play on each hole, making it one of the most difficult shots from a mental perspective. A good tee shot will give you the confidence to go on and play well, while a terrible tee shot can be the first in a domino of poor shots and mistakes. The only way to improve your tee shot is to practice a lot in order to get comfortable with hitting the ball with your driver or irons. On the driving range, you can practice a number of drills to improve the accuracy and consistency of your tee shots. One of Rory McILroy’s favorite driver drills is the split hand drill. Place the lead hand on top of the club grip and the trail hand on the bottom of the grip, and as you bring the club up, you will really be able to get the right feel for the correct movement of a good driver swing. This will improve your consistency through muscle memory. The next best drill is to practice your tee shots on a virtual golf simulator. First, this will show you exactly what the ball is doing when you hit it, allowing you to adjust your swing for a straighter shot. Here at Golf X, you can also play on actual courses, which will accurately recreate the pressure conditions of playing on an actual course, especially if you are playing a round of virtual golf with your friends.

To become a much better golfer, you need to be able to hit a variety of difficult shots, whether in difficult conditions or under pressure. Follow the above tips to master the three most common difficult shots.