The biggest problem with hitting a ball out of the rough is that you often don’t know exactly what the problem is. Sometimes, the thick grass will grab the club and cause a shot to come up well short. Other times, grass gets between the clubface and ball, causing a shot with no spin that flies and rolls farther than expected (the so-called “flyer.”)
So how do you know what the ball will do when playing from the rough? There’s always a little guesswork involved, but do your homework first and you’ll eliminate much of the unknown. Any time you find the thick stuff, examine your ball with an eye on these clues:
- Ball sitting down: If the rough is more than an inch tall, the ball will sometimes sink to the bottom. The grass will slow the club’s speed and often cause the face to close through impact, sending the ball left.
- Ball sitting up: If you’ve lucked into a fluffy lie, caution is still merited. For one, you may catch one of those flyer lies that send the ball into oblivion if you’re not careful. Second, if it’s perched really high, a lofted club may slip underneath the ball and hit it next to nowhere.
- Direction of the grass: If the grain of the grass is growing against you, the ball won’t travel as far. Hitting down-grain, expect the ball to “jump” and come out hot.
Whenever you’re playing from tall rough, make a few practice swings near the ball to get a feel for the grass’s thickness and resistance. Also, stand a little closer to the ball and focus on hitting down sharply. You want as little contact as possible with the grass, so a steeper swing is recommended.