Severe Uphill Approach Shots

I have 3 holes on my home course that require extreme uphill approaches. I have seen a few adjustments recommended:

  • Plus one club for every 15 ft of elevation change
  • Add “yards of elevation change” to the number

These are 40 - 55 ft elevation changes. They typically happen on approaches of 100, 150 and 200 (different profile of approach club obviously). Currently I am taking +2 clubs on each approach, and it seems to be working ok, but just wondering if there is a way to be more sure of how the elevation change affects the distance, and whether there are any setup adjustments (its an uphill lie as the entire holes run uphill).


The 200 yard approach is a second on a short par 5. Given the fact that it is basically a cliff in front of the green, I am thinking it may be better to lay up to 75-100 yds and hit a full sw or wedge. The uphill nature of the shot and the lower flight don’t seem to jive. If I come up short, I have to open a 60 degree and take a full swing


As for the elevation change - it’s a guessing game unless you have a slope adjusted range finder or a yardage book where someone has already done it. I think some of the Decade yardage books can give elevation impact as well if that’s an option.

The longer the shot, the more the elevation will impact it (in my mind I think it’s given the angle of descent of the ball, but there may be more to it than that).

Hitting off an uphill lie will help longer irons stay in the air longer so that may help reduce some of the impact (as compared to hitting of a downhill lie to an elevated green where you just can’t get enough height on the shot), but off the uphill lie you may be adding some loft so still need to club up and it may net out.

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It sounds like on the par five, laying back is probably the smart choice… if you can’t get there in two consistently.

Otherwise, the problem with upslope is you need to take more club, which also lowers ball flight… it’s a hard balance to achieve… just have to figure out what works.

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I have gotten on google earth and looked at the altitude change so have a good number there in terms of elevation change. It is tricky, it seems as though it is much easier to handle with 7 iron and below. Once the approach is over 150 yards and is 40 ft* uphill, it really gets difficult to manage trajectory and distance.

Almost as though at 190 yds out, my 4 iron, hybrid and 3 wood may all hit the same spot on the hill!

I can’t imagine what a 150 yard shot playing 40!!! uphill would be like. I think you need to find a new course! 40 yards uphill is about a 10 story building!!

*40-60 ft uphill

The most severe uphill shot is the 100 yard shot. I think it is about 3 stories above where you sit in the fairway. It is a bit exasperating that they have 3 holes with the same ridiculous uphill approach, but you can’t beat the club for price, distance to my house, clubhouse, and how they maintain the course (even if I don’t love the layout).

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That’s a little more reasonable. Was hoping you didn’t have to walk 40 yards uphill on one hole!

Yes agreed. Pretty frustrating to have to lay up from 190.

I feel as though most holes with extreme uphill approaches will have a bailout area with some flatter terrain to play your 3rd off of. Not the case on these holes

At my home club, Stoneleigh Golf Club, Round Hill, VA, the second tee is about elevation 652 feet, based on Google Earth, the fairway at about 715, and the second green about 764. That’s just about 37 yards uphill on that hole. Its a tough walk, but it sure gets you feeling warm on a cold morning.


Factoring in your ball flight height is also a consideration, Low flights mean the uphill shots harm distance; more than a standard ball flight.
The inverse on downhill shots.

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We have a par5 at our course with a 35’ rise, 54’ up to green from 200yds.

This would correspond to roughly 10:5 which might be appropriate for low trajectory shots.

Implies a 1:1 landing angle, appropriate for medium traj shots.

I have long questioned slope lasers. Without trajectory info, I suspect slope (‘plays like’) is specious. I’ll leave it to you to draw two parabolic shots (one hi, other lo) into a green to illustrate the significance of landing angle, rather than straight-line distance.
As a starting point, consider assuming LAs of 30*, 45* and 60* (~1.7, 1.0 and 0.6) corresponding to low, med and hi traj. For example a hi traj PW would fly 3yds shorter on an approach to 5 yds uphill.
Hope this helps!


My current club has about 70 stories worth of elevation changes over the course of the round, but is designed in a way that is it never ridiculous, just challenging. My old usual muni had a 300 yard hole that went down about 40’ from the tee box to 150yards and then up about 100’ from there to the green. Absolutely ridiculous hole as hitting a hybrid off the tee will probably result in then same extreme uphill approach as hitting a good driver.
As for advice about playing the approaches, a big key is knowing your windows. If your usual ball flight on a club has an apex lower than the elevation change, then you really can’t hit that club and expect accuracy.


That sounds exactly like a par 3 hole on my local course…105 yds from the forward tee, same height hill…I can get up it with a 5 wood off the tee, or a 7 on a wind-less day - but hate to roll it right over the green to the road behind it! I’d rather make a short pitch from near the green on the one flat side than use more club and have it roll right back down the hill, LOL

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@Fraser you are a gentleman and a scholar!

You accurately described what I was struggling with as a slow talking, knuckle dragging cro-magnon!

With my ball flight, 40 ft up the hill from 180 is just not a friendly situation (do to the flat parabola and the penal nature of the hill).

I think the thing to do is to go out on the course when its not busy and hit shots from various spots on the fairway to decipher the clubbing. I think this type of thing is where a home yardage book or just local knowledge is key.


Agree about the laser rangefinders. I just bought a ShotScope laser rangefinder, and it states it calculates the “adjusted” yardage on a 1:1 basis (assumes a 45 degree descent angle). I saw a Trackman video (sorry, lost the link) that recommended (for uphill shots), adding .6:1 for high trajectory shots, 1:1 for medium trajectory shots, and 1.8:1 for low trajectory shots. So a 100 yard shot (assuming high trajectory) with a change of elevation of 10 yards (30 feet) would be played at 100 + .6*10 yards = 106 yards.

Note that tour pro data shows that nearly all shots from tour pros are near enough the 45 degree descent angle to use the 1:1 ratio. I have data (I am about a 10 handicap, hit a 9 yard driver about 220 carry) from the GC Quad simulator that shows the descent angle for my 9 iron (36 degrees) is about 45 degrees. 7 iron (27 degrees) is about 38 degrees, 5 iron (21 degrees) is about 33 degrees. So for 8 iron or less the 45 degree assumption is good. Maybe add an extra 10% for clubs longer than that (and vice versa for downhill shots). But my ability to hit a certain yardage decreases with club length, so that probably doesn’t make much difference. In reality, I will probably use the 1:1 estimate and err on the shorter side for longer clubs.


Great post. Thanks for the info

Thank you @CraigFromBend! I’ve never seen that explained anywhere. That confirms my suspicion that there’s more to it than sight angle and distance. LA (traj) and probably spin are determinant.

Very reassuring to find my trig-based ‘guesstimates’ are not all that far off! Of course you’re right, the answer is to get on a good LM to determine LAs for each club but alas I don’t have one (I’m :nauseated_face:!).
FWIW, I created a chart I keep in my YB based on the 1.7:1, 1:1 and 0.6:1 factors (I’ll probably use your factors!). I use GE to get elevations for my YB.

To use your example, find elev chg (10y) read across to HiTraj read “6” and add to straight line distance (100+6=106).
Note the distance is really irrelevant, only distance adjustment; only matters what your LA is.
Now, all that remains is to determine LAs for various clubs. I pace off ball to pitch mark. I like your way better🤢!
Takeaway: @CraigFromBend is spot on, got to know what clubs fall under the 1:1 LA that the rangefinder computes; outside that, it’s a guess.

Hope this helps someone!