When the amateur golfer finds thick rough, he often compounds the problem by trying to advance the ball as far as possible, sometimes all the way to the green. Pulling a mid-iron, he takes a mighty rip and watches helplessly as the ball falls a few yards in front of him – still in the tall stuff.
Any time the grass blades reach the top of the ball or higher, the wise play is to choose a lofted club and get it back in the fairway. Sometimes, this means pitching out directly sideways, but that’s still a better option than risking another shot from the deep thicket.
It’s no secret that the taller and thicker the rough, the more difficult it is to hit the ball a decent distance. The irony is, hitting a longer, less lofted club can lead to even worse results. That’s because your swing is shallower with a longer club, so it catches more grass behind the ball. Plus, the smaller degree of loft produces a lower flight, so the ball encounters added resistance once it’s been struck.
That’s why your best bet is to play out safely with a wedge. You’ll swing on a steeper angle and hit less rough coming into the ball, then pop it cleanly up and over the grass. Just make sure your path to the fairway is relatively short, and play to a spot that leaves an unobstructed approach to the green for your next shot.