Deep Greenside Rough
Of all the tough lies you can get around the greens, to me one of the hardest to escape from consistently is thick rough. And with a near record rainfall year down here in South Texas, our wiry Bermuda roughs have been brutal. As a result, everyone’s scores are higher and handicaps are rising at our club. Off the tee, missing a fairway usually means some kind of pitch back to the short grass, as few are strong enough to muscle a club through this stuff. But around the greens, it is a totally different challenge. This topic for today was courtesy of Bruce R., of Austin, TX, who wrote:
"I’m a 62 year old 13 handicap, playing a lot of golf with my retired pals here in Austin, TX. All of us have problems getting out of the soft fluffy grass in the rough and around the greens that causes the ball to sit way down. The chip shots we would normally hit just aren’t working, we end up blasting it too far or leaving it way short. Help!!!"Well, Bruce, you guys have had your share of rains as well, so I’m sure you are dealing with the same conditions we are down south of you. The shot you describe is one of the toughest, as I mentioned, but let me give you some tips on how you might approach these and see if it can’t give you some edge over your buddies. (You can share your newfound knowledge with them after you take some of their cash!)
The key with these shots is to carefully “read the lie”. You say the ball is “sitting way down”, but that might not always mean it’s all the way down to the turf. As thick as Bermuda grows, what often happens is that the ball is down in the blades of grass, but perched on the runners and stems anywhere from a quarter to half inch or more off the ground. The other thing you want to understand is how firm that ground is below the ball. It is within the rules of golf for you to use your forefinger to “probe” an area just away from the ball to get a feel for what kind of lie you really have.
If the ball is not all the way down to the dirt, you can hit this shot like a bunker shot. Lay the face open, as the grass will wrap around the hosel and force it closed through impact. Hit slightly behind the ball and let the club glance off the turf, popping the ball out. Realize that this shot will come out lower than a bunker shot usually, and with less spin, so allow for that. You can choose your lob or lower lofted wedge – even a short iron – depending on how much roll you want to get.
On those occasions where the ball has found its way all the way down to the ground, it presents a tougher shot. If the turf is not too firm, you can hit the shot described above, but with a little more force as you will also be removing some dirt. If the ground is firm you need to play the shot with the face open – because of the grass effect – but make contact right at the back edge of the ball, rather than further behind it as you would if it was a bunker shot.
In all three of these shot techniques, you want to make a slightly steeper swing path than you would in the bunkers. Set your wrists a little earlier in the backswing to create a more vertical swing arc, and be sure to lead with your left side through impact.
Find an area next to the practice tee where you can duplicate these lies and give these tips a try. And let me know how it works out. You’ll have a new EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge FREE, as well, so that should help you even more!!!
Thanks for writing in and reading “The Wedge Guy”.
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[ comments ]
@WedgeGuy - Do techniques vary with the type of grass? In my home course we have Ryegrass and I've found that closing the clubface works a little bettert; specially when the grain is against the shot. In this case the grass tends to open the club face.
The heavy ryegrass rough plus fast bent grass greens make this an extremely difficult shot :(
I can attest to the bermuda rough being just that, ROUGH. As I mentioned a few months back, I signed up for a summer membership to improve my game and was on my way to being in the 80's. The course is nothing but bermuda grass and in the rough there are patches of stuff with 1/4" to 1/2" wide blades. Each offer a challenge to hit from. I am sidelined now because my left elbow is messed up. Before that it was my right wrist. The wrist has healed, but the elbow hasn't. I know this was off topic for what shots to hit. I felt it legitimate so as to let you all know not to hack it out of there.
Also, I stay in shape, so that wasn't a factor. Once I heal, I will be playing much smarter golf.
Thankfully I don't have to deal with bermuda, but definitely, one of the toughest shots is the short-side chip from long thick rough. But soooo satisfying when you manage to judge everything correctly--the lie, the amount of stroke, amount of loft, etc. I think when the ball is buried, ultimately you have to man up and take a rather big stroke at it with a lot of loft. Some good advice in this post.
I focused on the mentioning of HC's going up. Even if it was illustrative more than accurate, I at times like those described wish there were a way to account for conditions when posting a score. Obviously this is just not possible, but an 85 on a soaked course in the wind could be a better round than an 80 in perfect conditions.
I do like a little rough to challenge the golfer, but this shot (especially short-sided) is one of those areas where I am usually guessing. I try to figure out as WG mentions, but I just don't practice the shot enough.
I usually play either bent or Rye, but recently played in Hawaii on a bermuda course. My observation was that when dry, bermuda is great, especially on the greens. When wet, bermuda fairways and rough can be very tough, and require precise ball striking. I tend to use the "chunk and run" with most shots from deep greenside rough, regardless of grass.
Of course, if you hit more fairways, then you wouldn't have to worry about playing out of the rough. :)
i am with swingem on this. I usually stab at it smack the club in the ground and let the ball pop out. Not sure what type of rough i play in? i am thinking bent grass. I golf in Indiana if that might narrow it down by region.
@ Wedge Guy - Do you have a timeframe for when Eidolon V-sole wedges will be tested by the USGA for groove conformity? I've searched their informational club database for irons/wedges, and can't find any information (even pre-2010 groove rule) regarding Eidolon's products. Also, how do you go about picking up a free wedge? Thanks...
I often play a lot of these shots out of Texas burmuda rough the same as Banker85 and swingem--use a 56* wedge, play the ball off your back foot, and chop down it with a steep angle. The ball pops out nicely and will run on the green.
DOH *bermuda* No edits???
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