Last month when I watched the U.S. Open, I saw how difficult it can be to hit out of the rough. The players who hit the ball the farthest, like Bryson DeChambeau, had an easier time getting out of the rough with a more lofted club.
Most of the courses we play in the Lowcountry will have 2-inch to 3-inch rough, which is still difficult to hit out of. One of the reasons many golfers have difficulty hitting out of the rough is they never practice this shot.
Most driving ranges are cut short and don’t have thick rough to practice from. Therefore, the best time to practice getting out of the rough is on the golf course. Just make sure you do this when there are no players waiting in the group behind you.
As with all golf shots, the lie determines the shot you will try to hit. Always assess the lie first before you pick a club to use. You might not be able to use the club you normally use from that distance. The heavier the rough, the more likely the club will decelerate at impact, which will result in loss of distance.
If the grass is growing with the ball, it will be a “flier lie” and the ball will come out hotter and travel farther than you expect, therefore take less club.
If the grass is growing against the ball, use a more lofted club.
If the lie is not too deep, a high lofted hybrid can be effective for longer shots.
Below are suggestions to help you hit various shots from the rough:
• Hold the grip tighter with both hands and choke down on the club
• Open your stance and move the ball position back in your stance
• Open your clubface slightly
• Hands should be positioned ahead of the ball
• Weight should be at least 60% on your target side
For the swing itself:
• Take an earlier wrist cock
• Swing path should be more upright
• Take a shorter backswing with little weight shift
• On the forward swing you need a “steep” angle of approach
• The divot must be in front of the ball
• Hold the finish without re-cocking your wrist
Always take a number of practice swings to get an idea of the resistance the grass is going to give. Sometimes the only shot is to get the ball back into play, so don’t try to be a hero.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. firstname.lastname@example.org; golfdoctorjean.com