Think about how many times during your round that you have a flat level lie. I would venture to guess that it might be only 18 times, from the tee box. It is from these level lies that we practice on the range and then we go out and play most of our shots from a variety of positions. The golf swing that we work so hard to achieve on the range, must change and adapt to new and different situations. If you are not letting the course and the nature of your lie, dictate your set-up and pattern, then you may be struggling.
When we are faced with an uneven surface or awkward ball position, our set-up and pattern must change in order to make a quality strike with predictable ball flight. We cannot expect to make the same motion we practice from a level area when the ball is well below or above our feet. The same is true when we find our ball in deep grass, sand, or some other lie that is nothing like our practice conditions. I am sure we have all experienced these situations and have been confused when our contact is off or our ball flight goes in the opposite direction than planned. We practice in a controlled environment, yet play in an environment which varies from shot to shot.
I often question why more golf facilities do not design their range to more closely represent the true nature of their fairways. Uneven lies are a larger part of the game than perfect level lies, yet most players do not practice these shots. If you are looking to improve your overall ball-striking then consider giving more time to working on these situations. If you play multiple balls out on the course (when pace of play allows) put yourself in these types of troubled lies. Play from uncomfortable positions to better understand the changes you must make. When you are practicing, find locations that are not always perfect, and spend time getting comfortable with the situation. If you do not understand what to do from these uneven and awkward lies, then visit your local PGA professional to help increase your knowledge and skill.
The level lie does not often occur once we leave the range and tee box. Give more thought to how you might improve your game by working on the awkward and uneven.