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We all know that uphill shots require more club from the same distance than does a level shot, and we need less club for downhill shots. Have you ever wondered exactly why this is?

Some people answer that gravity plays a role. They believe on uphill shots that the ball is constantly fighting gravity instead of being helped by it, while on downhill shots gravity gives some extra help.

This sounds plausible at first, but we are talking about horizontal distance. Gravity works vertically, not horizontally. In other words, it’s not the ball’s up-and-down movement that is the factor, but the ball’s forward movement. Therefore, gravity is not the reason we need more club for uphill shots and less for downhill shots.

The reason is simple geometry. You can see in Illustration A how an uphill shot in effect plays longer than a level shot of the same distance.

Illustration B shows how a downhill shot in effect plays shorter than a level shot of the same distance.

Some modern rangefinders can calculate effective distance based on whether the end target is uphill or downhill, and are effective in teaching golfers about such shots. However, they are illegal for modern play, but acceptable for casual play and for practice rounds.

Golfers who face hilly conditions but normally play on fl at ground will definitely have an adjustment period. Without a rangefinder, the best way is to hit multiple shots to dial in the correct club they need. With a little practice, they can soon make accurate judgments about which is the correct club.


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