RECOVERING FROM THE ROUGH
Hitting from the rough is something every golfer does, but hardly any golfer does correctly. As the great Bobby Jones pointed out decades ago, the golfer who scores in the 90’s or even 100, usually loses about ten strokes per round because of his failure to recover as well as he could. And yet, every golfer has the ability within himself to hit from the rough successfully, even if they do not realize it. The main fault lies in their approach to the shot. Typically, they either try to do too much with a bad situation, or they make a poor decision when choosing a club. The rule of thumb when hitting from the rough is “you can only do as much with a shot as your lie dictates.”
Accordingly, there are certain guidelines to heed that will dramatically improve your results from the rough. When you are embedded in a bad lie in thick rough, the grass actually interferes with the ball contacting the clubface. The rough tends to grab the clubface and shut it down. Therefore, a more lofted club should always be your choice. This ensures better contact between the club and the ball, and increases your likelihood of making a shot that can get you back into the match.
When executing a shot from a poor lie in deep rough, it is also essential to control the clubface. Choking down on your club will help ensure both maximum clubface control, and maximum feel throughout the shot.
Let’s face it! Getting the ball back into play is the main goal when hitting from the rough. That is why you should definitely avoid having to play two consecutive shots from the rough. On the golf course, trouble breeds more trouble, unless you deal with the first recovery shot with a cool head. Being realistic with what you can do with a certain shot, and just getting the ball back into the fairway quickly, will greatly decrease your scores.
Now, in those cases where the golfer does get a lie in the rough that is, indeed, playable, the full swing remains a viable option. However, there are minor changes to your swing that first need to be taken into consideration. That change comes in club selection, and a slight alteration in the swing plane. Since the grass interferes with the clubface and the ball, the shot will have less spin and travel farther – mostly from the added roll of the ball. Therefore, using one club less (going from a 7 iron to an 8 iron) is smart play. This will compensate for the ball coming out “hot” and running the extra distance.
The golfer should also seek to adapt his swing plane when hitting from the rough. The approriate swing plane for these shots should be more shallow, and not as steep as usual. To accomplish this, employ less wrist action, and feel as if your stroke will “sweep” the ball from the rough. The club should flatten out at the bottom of the swing, and continue onward into the follow through. This approach will help to make consistent contact from such lies, and avoid the classic “flyer” shot out of the rough.
Remember, never try to do more from the rough than the lie dictates. It may require you to bite the bullet and lay up with a wedge to the fairway. But that will save you strokes in the long run. If the lie does allow you to hit a full shot, “sweep” the ball from the rough with less club than you normally would hit. Executing these shots from the rough in the manner that I have outlined, will provide you with better results and lower scores. And, by applying my tips to your game, you too, will be on your way to playing like a pro.