With rain and cold weather, the biggest complaint I hear from golfers is how bad the rough is and how difficult it is to get out of. Most people I talk to attribute the rough to this “unusual” weather and think they won’t always have to deal with it. Unfortunately, if you look at history, this year has been about average as far as rain and temperatures for the most part, so you may see this rough for years to come. Luckily, there are adjustments that can be made to help not only escape from the rough, but hit quality shots from the rough.
The first and most important step is to read the lie that you have in the rough. This is ultimately going to determine what you can and cannot do with the upcoming shot. You should take a look first at how deep in the grass the ball is sitting and how much grass is around the ball. If the ball is sitting deep in the rough almost like it is in a hole, then you must take your medicine and try to advance the ball as far as possible, but do not get greedy. For example, if you have 150 yards to the hole to a green guarded by a lake, take a lofted club to layup in the fairway and proceed from there; the risk will not pay off. If the ball is lying with grass around it that is covering the back of the ball, but the direction of the grass is growing towards your target then you can expect a flier lie and the ball to come out with very little spin and to fly a very long distance. With this lie you must account not only for the ball flying farther, but also not stopping when it hits the ground. If you have the grass growing away from the target, you can expect the ball to come out very soft and not fly as far as normal and stop quickly.
The second adjustment that people need to make is move the ball back in their stance. This will create a steeper angle of attack on the golf ball which is necessary to elevate the ball out of the rough and also create a swing path that will catch the least amount of grass as possible through impact. This is the most common error I see from players who struggle from the rough; they don’t put the ball back far enough in their stance. The result is usually a low left snipe hook for a right hander that remains caught up in the rough.
The reason the miss is usually low left is because when the club is catching on the long grass, the tendency is for the hosel to be grabbed which turns the club face closed which produces a left shot for a right handed golfer. To offset, the final adjustment is to set up with the club face slightly open and make an emphasis to keep that club face open all the way through impact.
Obviously, there is no replacement for finding the fairway and having a perfect lie, but follow these tips and hopefully if you stray off the fairway you’ll still be able to save shots to keep your scores down.
Scott Hogan is a Class A PGA Instructor and Certified Personal Coach at multiple locations in the Chicagoland area. Visit www.scotthogangolf.com to find information on how to schedule a lesson and for previous articles and video tips.