Explaining the 'Floater' Shot, or 'Floater Lie,' in Golf

Have you ever heard an announcer on a golf broadcast, or a fellow golfer during a round, say something along the lines of, "this one might be a floater," or "he'll have to be careful with that floater lie"? If you don't know what a "floater" is in golf, you might have been confused. So let us clear it up.

In golf, a floater is a shot that comes out of the rough with less speed than a normal shot played with the same club because blades (or tufts, or large quantities) of grass have gotten in-between the golf ball and the face of the club at impact. When that happens, it cushions the blow, resulting in shots that don't travel as far as intended.

And a "floater lie" is the lie (meaning, the location of the golf ball and how it is sitting at rest prior to playing a stroke) that produces such a shot.

Any time your golf ball is sitting down in the rough you have to take into consideration the possibility that a floater is going to result. The higher the rough — the more your ball is sitting down in the rough — the higher the possibility that grass will get in-between the ball and your clubface and you'll hit a floater. With a floater lie, it is difficult to make what golfers call "clean contact" or "crisp contact."

Floater lies are especially dangerous when you have to play over water, a bunker or some other trouble area in order to get where you want to be. A floater lie when you need to hit over a pond to reach the green is no fun! Depending on the severity of the lie, you might even decide to lay up because hitting a bad floater in that circumstance and coming up short might mean a lost ball.

Compare "floater lie" to "fluffy lie." And a floater lie is definitely an "iffy lie."

(Note that occasionally throughout the history of golf, but especially in the late 1800s/early 1900s, golf balls designed to float when hit into water have been made. Those balls, when they sporadically show up on the market, are called floaters.)

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