One of golf’s most peculiar shots comes from a phenomenon known as the Flyer Lie. With many golfers struggling not to be able to get approach shots to fly to the green in the first place, what happens with a flyer lie may sometimes be ultra confusing to a lot of people.
What is a flyer lie in golf? A flyer lie is when the ball sits up in the rough, more on top of the longer blades of grass. The grain of the grass also heads toward the target. When you hit a ball from a flyer lie, the grass between the ball and clubface reduces the spin on the ball, causing it to fly and roll farther than you intended.
If you don’t understand the flyer lie, you could be shocked by some mishits. But you can use a flyer lie to your benefit, so read on to learn:
- What Exactly is a Flyer Lie?
- What Causes Of A Flyer in Golf?
- Tips To Play From a Flyer Lie
So settle in, and maybe take one club less as we dive into today’s topic about Flyer Lie.
What Exactly is a Flyer Lie?
In golf, a flyer (flier) lie occurs when the ball is sitting on top of longer grass blades in the rough, with the grass grain heading toward the target. This creates a unique situation for the golfer because the grass that comes between the clubface and the ball will reduce the spin. This means you’ll hit the ball longer than you anticipate.
Other factors can contribute to the extra yardage you get from a flyer including more moisture on the ball, grass blades, and the clubface.
All these factors reduce spin, especially on more lofted clubs, causing shots to go further than expected.
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What Causes A Flyer in Golf?
A flyer, also affectionately known as a heater, or even a jumper, happens because it does exactly that..it jumps from that flyer lie situation. This usually occurs when hitting from short to medium-length rough. When grass is trapped between the ball and the clubface at impact, friction is reduced, and the club imparts less spin on the ball, causing the ball to fly further and roll out more when it lands.
Here are some factors that can cause a flyer in golf:
- The length of the grass: The longer the grass, the more likely a flyer will occur.
- The direction of the grain: If the grain of the grass is growing towards the target, it will be more likely to cause a flyer.
- The loft of the club: Higher lofted clubs are more likely to cause a flyer than lower lofted clubs.
- The speed of the swing: A faster swing will be more likely to cause a flyer than a slower swing.
A flyer is caused mostly by the spin rate on your ball.
How Grass Type Can Cause Flyers
The type of grass that composes the rough on your course will also affect your chances of getting a flyer lie. For example, flyer lies are common in Florida, where Bermuda grass is prevalent. This is because Bermuda is a little rougher, thicker, and grainier. If that ball is sitting up in Bermuda grass rough, and the grain is in your shot’s direction, that puppy will almost certainly fly.
A softer, whispery grass, such as bent, rye, and fescue, is less flyer-prone.
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Tips To Play From a Flyer Lie
The following are some tips to help you navigate a situation where you come face to face with a flyer lie in your next round.
Learn To Identify a Flyer Lie
Learning to identify what a flier lie looks like is half the battle. It takes a well-trained eye and is not an exact science. But when you know what to look for, you will soon be able to recognize this potentially costly situation more consistently. A flyer lie occurs when your ball sits more on the grass blades. There will still be some grass that your club will need to travel through, but you will definitely be able to have some speed coming through impact.
The more important thing to look for is the direction the grass blades are growing. If they move in the same direction as the shot you are playing, chances are good; it’s a flier.
Take Less Club Most Times
If you feel confident you have a flyer lie, take one less club. If it is a shorter yardage you are hitting from, requiring a more lofted club, you may need to go down by two clubs. The reduction of spin affects higher-lofted clubs much more.
Take More Club From Further Away
On the flip side, if you are a long way away and in that long iron or hybrid territory, the effects of the flier lie will be far less. In these situations, you must be more concerned about the ball’s rollout versus any additional height. Longer irons from flier lies will quickly fall out of the sky but roll substantially. Take less club and play for the rollout.
Look For Excess Water In The Grass
Excess water on the clubface, ball, and grass can add to the reduction of spin. With a shorter yardage and a more lofted club in hand, I would consider to club down by two fewer clubs.
Don’t Fight It, Play For It To Fly
If chances are good that your ball will fly from the lie you have, don’t fight it, but rather, embrace it.
Granted, it is not an exact science to try and figure out how much the ball will fly from this particular lie, but if you have made an excellent educated guess that it will, play for that.
With a more lofted club, you want to avoid going down after the ball as you would from a clean lie in the fairway. You almost want to feel like you are picking the ball off the top of the fluffed-up lie in the rough.
With a long iron or even a hybrid in hand, play for a lower-flighted shot that runs a great deal.
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If the idea surrounding a flyer lie in golf was once mysterious to you, hopefully, I have cleared some things up.
To recap, a flyer lie is when the ball sits on top of the longer blades of grass in the rough, with the grain of the grass heading towards the target. And when you hit the ball from a flyer lie, the grass between the ball and clubface reduces spin, causing the ball to fly and roll further than intended. Crazy, right? I always find it fascinating how nature can affect our game.
The keys to tackling the flier lie are identifying a potential flier (look for the grass height and grain) and you can take less club in most cases to reduce the effects. As I mentioned, this is not an exact science, but having this basic knowledge will serve you well the next time you face this situation.
Brendon is Class A PGA Professional and founded Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He won 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award. He graduated from the PGA of America Management Program and has a handicap index of 7.8.
He has played golf for over 40 years and currently plays twice a month at the Eagle Dunes Golf Club near Sorrento, Florida. He loves Srixon clubs and plays a ZX5 driver with Z 585 irons. He's written over 60 articles on GolfSpan and specializes in sharing tips to improve your golf game. You can connect with Brendon at LinkedIn, X, IG, FB, his website, or BrendonElliott@pga.com.
- Best score: 69
- Favorite driver: Srixon ZX5
- Favorite ball: Srixon Z Star
- Favorite food at the turn: Turkey and cheese on white