The Meaning of 'Iffy Lie' in Golf

You play a stroke, then walk to up to see where your golf ball landed and how it is sitting. What you discover is that the lie is neither great, nor terrible. It's somewhere in-between. You have, in other words, an iffy lie.

Golfers use the term "lie" to mean where and how the ball is sitting after it comes to a stop. An "iffy lie" is any lie that leaves the golfer questioning whether or not they can pull off the shot they'd prefer to play, uncertain whether they can make good contact with the golf ball in that position.

Or, as the book about golf lingo called Let the Big Dog Eat! (affiliate link) puts it, an iffy lie is "a lie that leaves the player in doubt as to the outcome of the shot." The term obviously derives from the general meaning of "iffy," which is defined as full of uncertainty, or doubtful.

An iffy lie isn't the same thing as a bad lie. A bad lie, you know as soon as you see where and how your ball is sitting that you have no good shot options. With an iffy lie, you might be able to get a decent outcome — but it's questionable. It's iffy. And you are therefore left debating which type of shot you should attempt. Shots out of iffy lies sometimes turn out great, sometimes turn out terrible, and sometimes turn out somewhere in-between.

A couple examples of usage, the types of comments one might hear listening to a golf broadcast: "She wants to land the ball about five paces onto the green, but from this iffy lie the ball could come out hot." "He has an iffy lie so going for the green in two from here is very risky."

Depending on the circumstances of your round, or how you stand in a competitive setting, you might encounter an iffy lie and decide to play it safe — or to take the risk and go for the shot.

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