Rough, Rough Shots
By Erika Larkin on 10/24/12
This time of year the rough can be thick and long. At my home course, Stonewall Golf Club, our rough is a type of Rye grass that can be dense and maintain a lot of moisture. I just came back from playing Cassique, a beautiful course that had long, dry and gnarly Bermuda rough. I can tell you that at both courses, the rough posed a serious challenge if I missed the fairway. Handling the recovery shot can basically be treated the same and here is how.

If your ball is sitting down in the rough:
  • If your shot calls for a short iron, you may want to club up if the lie allows to make up for distance the rough will take away. If your shot calls for a longer club, you may be tempted to hit a hybrid or fairway wood. Don't waste your time or shot — be smart and use an iron even if it means you might fall short of your target, at least you will get out and back in play.

  • Make a conscious effort to open the clubface slightly to compensate for how much the clubface will shut through impact. This will help keep your trajectory a little higher and the ball should come out straighter instead of diving left (for a righty).

  • Swing up on the backswing. It should feel like you are lifting your arms more than usual so you can precisely chop down into the grass. A steeper angle of attack will really help get the clubface on the ball cleanly and pop the ball out.
If you get lucky and your ball happens to be sitting up try the following:
  • Find a spot about a foot away from the ball and "test" the lie by pressing your club into the grass just to get an idea of how much room there might be right under the ball. Be careful not to do this next to the ball or you may accidentally cause the ball to fall back into the grass (you can incur a penalty stroke for this goof move). If the ball is just sitting up a little bit there is no need to make any serious adjustments, just commit to the shot and swing through to a balanced finish position. If you think you have a more than two inches below the ball you want to follow the next tip.

  • Widen your stance a little and move your feet back slightly. This will set you up for a flatter swing and approach to the ball so you can sweep the ball off this lie like you would a driver off a tee. This will help you avoid going underneath the ball which could cause an easy flub.

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virigina. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine... and she's oobgolf's newest columnist. She will be writing on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at Enjoy!

Image via Flickr, One Tree Hill Studios

[ comments ]
mustang6560 says:
I don't think I've ever learned how to properly play a shot from the rough. I rarely pick the ball cleanly from the high grass. I'll have to remember these simple tips next time I play my second home course that has rough EVERYWHERE!
GolfSmith7 says:
What I can't figure out is when it will come out as a flyer or lose distance because of the rough. At times what I think would be rough turns out to be a flyer and vice versa... any tips on recognizing a flyer lie?
Matt McGee says:
Good advice. I've swung under a ball in the rough more times than I'd like to admit. It's (apparently) an easy mistake to make, especially when you're concentrating on the other aspects of making a clean shot out of the rough. I'll definitely try the last bit about the flatter swing.
birdieXris says:
@golfsmith7 - the flyer lie is characterized by a lot of grass. Light rough shots won't be flyers generally, but if you're in long or heavy rough and the ball is sitting down and on the ground, you may have yourself a flyer. That's generally where they happen, when the ball is on the ground in the rough, not sitting fluffy.
GBogey says:
Timely advice as my home course has recently let its rough grow quite a bit longer and this seems to be a wetter Fall than normal. I'm confused about hybrids, though - I've always heard that they were good for hitting out of the rough although my results are mixed at best.
GolfSmith7 says:
@birdieXris, that's just it I seem to have had more "flyer lies" from the first cut then the thicker stuff but I'll pay more attention.
Erika Larkin says:
Flyers: look for the grain of the grass if its pointing/leaning or laying towards the target with the ball on top of it, it will act more like a flyer. If the grass is working against the grain, that will make the club get more "stuck" and harder to hit through.

Hybrids: Worth a try but my personal opinion is an iron is more reliable when you have the worst lies.
[ post comment ]
    Cigar Lounge
Most Popular: