The most difficult thing about playing from the rough is its unpredictability. The length and type of grass, moisture, how the ball is sitting – all these and other factors can affect how the ball comes out.
If anything, short shots from rough are more difficult than long shots, because extra precision is required. If you’ve ever watched the U.S. Open, you’ve seen pros struggle to chip or pitch the ball close from the thick stuff.
While it’s impossible to master greenside rough, there are several ways to maximize your efficiency. Keep these tactics in mind whenever you encounter a patch of gnarly grass:
- Sand wedge works wonders: Because of its heavy sole, the sand wedge is often the most effective club on shots from rough. The added heft keeps the rough from slowing down the clubhead and delivers more solid contact.
- Ball sitting up – chip it: If the ball is perched high in the rough, with half-inch or more space between the ball and ground, be careful not to slide the club completely underneath it. Choke up on the grip and use a sweeping, chipping-style motion, keeping the hands ahead at impact. A hybrid club could be your best bet.
- Ball sitting down – pitch it: With the ball nestled down, the low approach angle of a standard chip can cause the club to get hung up. Opt for a higher pitch shot with the sand wedge: open your stance and clubface, then pick up the club abruptly and drop it steeply onto the back of the ball. The idea is to make minimal contact with the grass.
A little pre-round reconnaissance can give you an idea of what you’ll be up against – and how best to handle it. Hit a few practice shots from varying lies in the greenside rough for better on-course results.