We've all been there. You're out on the course, hitting the ball beautifully, and then...you get an unlucky bounce. Suddenly, the ball is in a tight lie. If you don't know what that is, don't worry - you're not alone. A tight lie is an area of the golf course where the ground is firm and compact with little to no grass underneath the ball - it could just be hard compacted dirt. You may have also heard it called hardpan. It can almost feel like you're hitting off the cart path.

Where are Tight Lies

If you've been playing golf long enough you know that finding yourself in a tight lie can happen anytime and anywhere on the course. However, there are common areas, course types, and weather conditions where you're more likely to find yourself on that dreaded hardpan. Let's take a quick look

  • Stressed areas of the golf course that are dry as a bone and receive too much sun - this can be common during the summer in hot dry climates with little rain.
  • Links courses - if you've grown up playing links golf where courses can be hard and fast you're probably not intimidated by a tight lie.
  • Winter golf - the grass is dormant or dead, cold hard, and maybe a bit frozen.
  • Greenside - the fringe and areas around the green that may have been mowed too closely.
  • Tee boxes - at least this one can be managed with the use of a tee. Of course, that is if you have enough strength to get the tee into the ground!

Secrets to Tight Lie Success

Hitting a ball from a tight lie can be tricky because there's less cushion for the ball to sit on. This can cause your shots to go lower than you intended and make it difficult to control your shot with a clean strike. In this blog post, we'll give you a few tips on how to hit those pesky tight lies so you're not constantly thinning or topping the ball.

Full Irons

Position the ball back in your stance and put a little more weight on your front foot. The key is hitting down on the golf ball making sure to contact the ball first before the ground. With a tight lie, it will be difficult for you to take much of a divot even with your wedges.

Be aware that with the ball positioned further back in your stance your ball flight should be lower with more roll. So, don't be afraid to use a club with more loft than normal when hitting from a tight lie. A higher-lofted club will actually be easier to control from a tight lie, and it will help get the ball up into the air more easily.

Video Tight Lie Lesson

Let Hank Haney, Tiger's former coach show you how hitting off hardpan can be easy.

How to hit golf ball off hard ground


Your chipping setup should be similar to a full iron. The main difference will be a narrower stance. But again make sure you position the ball back in your stance, favor more weight on your front foot and lean the shaft slightly forward.

The setup will deloft the club so remember a 9 iron becomes an 8 iron and so on. If you are close to the green or around the fringe and the shot allows for it consider using your putter or hybrid. This will allow you to use the tight lie to your advantage.

If you're a low handicapper or even a mid handicapper and skilled enough you can still hit a flop shot or use a lob wedge. Just remember to play smart golf - eliminate the chance of hitting it fat or skulling it by playing the percentages.

Video Chipping Lesson

Take a look at this video to master chipping off tight lies.

Chipping From Tight Lies

Hitting from a tight lie can be frustrating, but it doesn't have to be if you know what you're doing. By following these simple tips, you'll be able to get out of any tight situation and keep your score low. So next time you find yourself in a tough spot, remember these tips and get ready for your best shot yet.

And remember practice makes perfect. If you're looking for ways to practice when you can't get to the range or the golf course, see below.

And we even have a way for you to practice indoors. See below.