Steepen Your Swing to Escape Deep Rough, Golf Swing Tip A

Thick, deep rough is one of the most severe punishments for a wayward golf shot.

Without the know-how and proper technique for escaping, a golfer can spend several strokes tangled in the tall grass.

When facing a full shot with the golf ball sitting down in deep rough, try these tactics:

• Take an extra club to make up for a loss of distance, but avoid using anything longer than a 5-iron. The less loft, the more difficult it is to get the ball up and out of the thick stuff.

• Stand slightly closer to the ball and play the ball toward the middle of your stance. These adjustments will make your swing steeper coming into the ball, creating less contact with the grass

• Right-handed golfers should aim slightly right of the target, since tall grass can grab the club's hosel and twist the clubface left. (Lefties, aim a little left.)

Hinge the wrists abruptly on the backswing, again to create a steeper downswing.

For relatively long golf shots, or those where you can run the ball onto the green, try a hybrid or fairway wood instead of an iron. These clubs slide more easily through the grass and are less likely to snag.

Steepen Your Swing to Escape Deep Rough

Steepen Your Swing to Escape Deep Rough

It is never a good feeling to see your golf ball disappear into the deep rough. If you are playing a golf course which features fairways that have been lined with deep rough, you will always have to focus on keeping your ball in the short grass whenever possible. Unfortunately, even if you place an emphasis on hitting the fairways, you are likely to stray into the rough at least once in a while. To get out of the rough and back on track, you need to have a plan – and this article is going to offer you just such a plan.

The typical golf swing you use when your ball comes to rest in the fairway really isn't going to work when you are playing from the deep rough. In order to have success from this kind of difficult lie, you are going to need to adjust the way you swing the club into the back of the ball. As always, the goal is to make the best possible contact between the club face and the ball at impact. However, unlike when on a tee or in the fairway, you are going to have something which is trying to get in the way of those two items. The long grass resting behind your ball is the greatest threat you face in terms of hitting a good shot, so you are going to have to do your best to work around that problem.

Before we get too far into this article, it should be mentioned that you can never expect too much when playing from the deep rough. These are inherently difficult shots to hit, and you are always going to struggle to hit the ball with anywhere near the same control or authority as when playing from the fairway. Rather than trying to defy the laws of the game, you should accept this as a reality and work with it. In other words, you need to resist the temptation to try and pull off an incredible shot from the deep grass. Most of the time, it's just not going to happen. You will be far better off to play it safe, be conservative, and make sure you avoid a serious error. A mistake was already made when you hit the ball into the deep rough, you don't want to follow that mistake with another one. Swallow your pride and play safe from the rough in order to complete the hole as quickly as possible.

To make sure you know what to expect when out on the course, it is always a good idea to scout out the rough before starting your round. If possible, get a view of the course from somewhere around the clubhouse in order to assess how deep the rough is going to be for the day. Many modern golf courses keep their rough short in order to promote good pace of play, but you will find a course with long rough from time to time. By checking in advance, you can be mentally prepared for the challenge that comes along with playing shots out of the deep grass.

All of the advice below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Effects of Deep Rough

The Effects of Deep Rough

Many amateur golfers struggle to understand some of the basic things that are happening to them during the average round of golf. This is a problem because you need to have a clear understanding of the challenges you face if you are going to successfully overcome those hurdles. This is certainly true when it comes to the deep rough. Yes, most golfers understand that playing from the deep rough is difficult, but few actually know why. We are going to clear up that confusion in this section.

To understand why it is so hard to hit good shots from the deep grass, please review the points below.

  • The grass gets trapped between the club face and the ball. Without the ability to strike the ball cleanly, you will always have trouble hitting the ball accurately, or powerfully, out of the rough. The grass which becomes trapped between your club and the ball is going to reduce the amount of spin which is passed on to the ball, meaning the shot will fail to climb high into the air. Also, the grass that gets in the way of good contact is going to limit the transfer of energy between face and ball. When all is said and done, the shot will not go as far or climb as high as it would have if struck from a clean lie.
  • The grass slows down the clubhead. Another cause of lost distance from the rough is the fact that the long grass will grab onto the hosel of the club as it enters the rough. As the grass wraps around the heel of the club head, and even the shaft, it is going to slow down your swing dramatically. Even the strongest players lose some of their swing speed to the rough in this situation, meaning the ball will travel even shorter as a result. The amount of swing speed that is lost to the rough will always be a bit of a guessing game, as no two patches of rough are exactly alike.
  • The grass twists the club. Not only is the long grass going to slow your club down as it approaches impact, but it is also likely to twist the club. Usually, the club will twist in the closed direction as the grass wraps around the hosel, but that is not always going to be the case. Again, this is a point which is nearly impossible to predict, making it hard to hit an accurate shot from this kind of lie. You could try to aim out to the right in order to counteract the likely pull that you are going to hit, but that strategy can backfire if the club winds up sailing cleanly through the grass and into the ball.
  • The ball will bounce and roll after it lands. As if all of the points above weren't enough, another challenge you will face is the fact that these shots are going to have almost no spin when they come off the club. That means the ball is going to bounce and roll a significant distance (depending on course conditions) after it lands. Of course, this fact is going to make it even harder to control your shots, and you will struggle as a result to hit any specific target.

The list above should have you thinking one thing – I need to keep my golf ball out of the rough! While that is true, you also need to have a plan for how you are going to counteract the problems above to the best of your ability. You are never going to be able to make these easy shots to handle, but you can make them a bit more playable by using the right technique.

A Steep Swing is a Good Thing – in the Rough

A Steep Swing is a Good Thing – in the Rough

When playing from the fairway, you generally have to watch out to make sure your swing doesn't get too steep. If you start swinging down steeply into the ball, you are going to put too much spin on your shots and you may struggle to even make clean contact. A relatively shallow approach is best, as long as you are still hitting down on the ball to some degree.

This story changes when hitting out of the long rough. To get the ball up and out of the deep rough successfully, you are going to want to try a steeper downswing, attacking the ball from above. There will be just a few mechanical changes to your technique needed in order to achieve this style of swing – we will get into those specific changes later in the article. Once you learn how to make a steep swing to deal with this trouble spot, you should find that the ball will start to come out of the long grass easier than ever before.

So why is a steep swing the right way to go? Think about what is happening as the club approaches the ball. As you swing down, the grass which is sitting behind the ball is the biggest threat to the quality of your shot. If the club head gets hung up in that grass, you are going to lose speed and control (and we mentioned earlier). However, when you swing down on a steep plane, the path of the club will naturally avoid much of the rough behind the ball. You are still going to catch some of this grass, of course, but you should miss enough to at least get a decent hit on the ball at impact. This will allow you to carry more speed through the shot, and you should experience less twisting of the club head as well.

In addition to allowing you to miss some of the grass behind the ball, a steep swing may allow you to get just a bit of backspin on the shot – which will help to hold the ball up in the air. You are never going to get a lot of spin on this kind of shot, so you should still expect the ball to bounce and roll after it lands, but even a small amount of added spin will be a good thing. It's never easy to keep the ball in the air when hitting out of long rough, so taking advantage of any bit of spin you can find is a smart move.

It should be mentioned that there is a limit to what kind of club you can use in this situation while hitting down on the ball. If you are facing a shot out of the deep rough, and you think you need to hit down steeply to get to the ball, you shouldn't use a club much longer than a seven iron. You might be able to get the ball up and out with a six or five iron, depending on the lie, but even those clubs would be pushing it. By using a long club, you will risk not having enough loft to get the ball out of the grass – and there is a chance that the shot will only move a few feet in front of you. When in doubt, opt for the shorter club and at least get the ball moving in the direction of the target. You might not be able to reach the green with a shorter club, but getting the ball back to the short grass should be your main goal.

Smart Mechanics

Smart Mechanics

Now that you understand the importance of hitting down on the ball in the deep rough, we are going to take a look at some of the key mechanics you can use to make that happen. Fortunately, nothing in this section is going to be particularly complicated or difficult to learn. With only a small investment of practice time, you should be able to master the technique of hitting down steeply on the ball when in the long grass.

To make the change from your normal technique to one where you hit down on the ball from above, you will want to use the following adjustments.

  • Choke down on the grip of the club. The first thing you need to do is choke down at least a couple inches on the grip of whichever club you have decided to use. This is important because you need to make the club effectively shorter in order to miss some of that grass which is waiting to catch your club head before impact. With less distance between your hands and the club head, you should miss more of the grass and be able to hit the ball harder as a result. Golfers usually think about choking down as a method which is used to create less speed, but it is just the opposite here. You should wind up carrying more speed through the shot when choked down than if you were to use the entire club.
  • Play the ball in the middle of your stance. Ball position is an important piece of the puzzle with this difficult shot. If you play the ball too far forward in your stance, you won't be able to hit down by the time impact arrives. However, if you move the ball too far back, you will risk hitting down so steep that you just bury the ball deeper into the rough. For most golfers, in most situations, keeping the ball perfectly in the middle of the stance will be the right way to go. This positioning will make it easy to hit down without creating a swing path which is excessively steep. Pay attention to your stance as you address the shot to confirm that the ball is located precisely halfway between your two feet.
  • Set your wrists very early in the swing. This is the move that is going to put you on a track to a steep downswing. By setting your wrists almost immediately upon starting the swing, you will move the club head high up into the air – perfect for establishing a steep path which can be recreated on the way down. Hinge the back of your right wrist to set the angle, and then use a good shoulder turn to swing the rest of the way up to the top. You typically want to keep your hands out of the equation early in your golf swing from a good lie, but using more hand action is the right choice in the deep grass.
  • Rotate, rotate, rotate. You need as much speed as you can muster in order to dig the ball out of the deep grass on this kind of shot. And, in golf, when you need speed, rotation should be your number one focus. It is essential to make a great rotation if you want to have a powerful swing. Use your hips to start the downswing by turning them open to the target, and then continue that rotation on down through the rest of the swing and into the finish. If you can mix a great rotational move with plenty of hand action early in the swing, you should be left with a swing that comes down aggressively on a steep plane.

Even though the tips above are not particularly complicated, you do need to spend some time practicing them if you are going to be able to hit this shot when it is needed. Be careful as you practice, however, because you don't want to repeatedly drive your club down into the turf on the range. Work on the adjustments listed above without actually hitting any shots, and while swinging just over top of the grass. These steep, aggressive swings can be hard on your hands and wrists, so only use them when absolutely necessary.

Short Game Concerns

Short Game Concerns

A course which has long rough lining the fairways is likely to have the same kind of rough growing around the greens. Just as the deep rough is going to make your life difficult when you have to hit a full shot from it, you will also find the short game to be quite a challenge as well. Chopping chip and pitch shots out of the deep grass and onto the greens is difficult to say the least, as getting up and down is going to be a serious accomplishment.

While there is nothing that we can say to make chipping from the deep rough an easy task, there are a few tips we can provide to help point you in the right direction. Those tips are listed below.

  • Use a lofted club, and open the face. Most of the chip shots you play from the deep rough should be handled with a lob wedge. Also, those shots should be played with an open face in order to add even more loft to the club at impact. The main goal is to get the ball up and out of the rough as quickly as possible. With the club laid open, you will not only have the advantage of maximum loft, but you will also expose the leading edge of the club to the grass. That edge will cut through the rough and make it easier for you to reach the ball.
  • Make a big swing. You should be thinking of this shot in the same way you think of a greenside bunker shot. Even though you are only a short distance from the target, you will need to make a big swing in order to cut through the rough and send the ball toward the green. Keep your head down as you make this swing to ensure that you get under the ball at impact. The combination of a big swing and an open club face should lead to positive results most of the time.
  • Play for a safe target. Even with perfect technique, you are not going to have a great deal of control over this kind of shot. With that in mind, be sure to aim for a spot which is comfortably on the green. If you were to aim for a spot close to the green's edge, and then you miss your spot slightly, you could find the ball back in the rough once again. At the very least, you should be trying to get the ball somewhere on the putting surface so you can put your wedge away and move on from the deep rough.

It is always a challenge to play from deep grass in this game. The grass is there to provide a penalty for your errant shot, and it does a good job of doing just that. Hopefully, with the help of the advice we have offered in this article, you will be able to get out of the rough quickly and safely the next time you stray from the fairway. Good luck!