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Hitting Out of Deep Rough
Recovering From the Trenches

Learn how to clear the ball out of deep roughHitting From Rough

Unpredictable Lies

What's worse hitting a great shot and having it roll just enough off the fairway to land in deep rough or barely missing a green and ending up in the bunker? Either way it's a real bummer when a well struck, near perfect shot lands you in a bad lie. While bunkers are considered hazards, the rough is not. Neither situation is really meant to cost you an entire stoke, but more like 1/2 a stroke. The rough however, depending on how deep it is, can cost you more. You've probably heard that most professionals would rather land in the sand than the rough. That is because of the simple fact that you have a more predictable lie. When the ball is in sand it is usually sitting up (as long as the players before you rake) and you can see most of the ball. You also know what the texture is like simply by looking at it or maybe because you hit a few practice shots out of the practice bunker before you teed off. The issue with the rough is you have no idea what is under your ball or how your ball is resting on the grass. You simply cannot see underneath it so it's somewhat of a guessing game. I consider rough a trouble shot just like being in the woods. It takes course management, good damage control and solid decision making to pull off the best shot possible out of the rough. Not only do you have an unpredictable lie, but it's very hard to stop a ball coming out of the green. If you are shooting for the green you have to factor that in when you are trying to pick the best club for the yardage you have. Landing it on the green simply might not be the best option. It may be much more wise to land the ball short and let it roll up.

How do you decide which club is best from the rough? The first thing to do is look at how much grass is above the ball. If part of the ball is showing above the grass then typically you will only need one extra club. If however the ball is really sitting down and heavily covered then you will need to club up a lot more. If it's buried then your only course of action is to take a wedge and punch it out. It's all about damage control when you get in that kind of trouble. Take your medicine, sacrifice the distance and get the ball safely back into play.

Choosing the Right Weapon

Now that you have an idea of how to pick the right club (loft wise); depending on how deep the rough is, how do you decide between a fairway wood or an iron? While irons are heavier, have more loft, have sharper edges and will dig down into the rough, they are not always the most desirable option. This is mainly because of the dig effect. It's easy to get your club caught down in the grass. The taller face has a lot more surface area for the grass to grab and the heavy hosel has a higher center of gravity. For this reason, a lot of people are more comfortable with woods. They have a lower center of gravity and a more shallow face allowing them to cut through the grass more easily.

Once you have decided on the type of club and the loft it's time to get set up correctly to successfully execute the shot. There are 5 things to focus on when it comes to setting up to and swinging at a ball in deep rough.

  • Play the ball middle to slightly back - Playing the ball back in your stance just a bit will allow you to catch the ball without getting a bunch of grass between the clubface and the ball. The last thing you want to do however is play the ball too far back because then you will actually catch it so early in the downswing that you will push the ball further down into the deep grass.
  • Open the clubface slightly - The long grass will grab the hosel and force the clubface to close over through impact. To offset this many players have success by opening the face ever so slightly at address.
  • Lean your weight left - To help hit down with a steep decent position your weight a bit towards your target side foot and try to remain there throughout the swing. Leaning on your back foot will force you to hit too far behind the ball and catch too much grass.
  • Hold the club firm - The long grass does a great job of grabbing your clubface when you are in deep rough. To prevent the club from slipping or turning in your hands it is recommended that you grip it with just a bit more pressure and hold on firm through impact.
  • Make a steep/armsy swing - Instead of making a deep shoulder turn which will result in a flatter swing, try being a bit more armsy. When you pick your arms up and swing more steeply it will help you create a sharp angle of attack that will catch the ball with more clean contact.

The Solution:

You are trying to figure out the best method of getting the ball out of deep rough.

The Solution:

When faced with a challenging lie in the rough make sure to play smart. If your only option is to punch the ball back out into play with a wedge and sacrifice distance than so be it. Decide first if you want to use an iron or a fairway wood after you assess the lie. Once you make that decision play the ball middle to back in your stance, set the face slightly open and lean left (target side). As you swing make sure to hold firm so the club won't twist in your hands and make a bit of a steeper and more armsy golf swing to create a steep angle of attack.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
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