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answer Grip down on the club and accelerate through impact

To be sure, not all rough is created equal. Nor are all lies. Many variables can affect how a particular shot should be played – for instance, the type, depth and thickness of the grass, the presence of moisture and whether your ball is sitting down or resting on top.

Regardless of the circumstances, its always a good idea to grip down (choke up) on your club and accelerate as the club passes through the impact zone. Gripping down will give you more control and prevent the grass from grabbing the clubhead, while acceleration is necessary to get through the thick stuff.

Lets take a common scenario and “play” the shot, step by step:

The situation: Your ball has come to rest in a 2” cut of dry rough. Its sitting halfway down – not a terrible lie, but not likely to produce a “flyer” either. Youve got 150 yards to the front of the green, with a large bunker guarding the greens front right portion.

  • The goal: Sure, youd like to get the ball on the green. But youre not sure how the ball will come out, even if you make good contact. And you want nothing to do with that bunker. Your best option is to play short of the green, away from the sand, leaving yourself a chip or pitch and a chance at par.
  • The shot: You pick a landing spot 15-20 yards short of the green in the fairway and left of the bunker, so a shot of 130-135 yards is required. Normally, you might hit an 8-iron that distance. Accounting for the rough and gripping down, you choose a 7-iron.
  • The execution: You go through your usual pre-shot routine, identifying your target and aligning your body and clubface. From there, you:
    • Grip down an inch or two. (This will effectively shorten your swing, so you wont have to think about doing that.)
    • Play the ball in the center of your stance, with the hands ahead of the ball and the shaft leaning forward.
    • Swing firmly down while focusing on hitting the back of the ball.
    • Its crucial to contact the ball first and catch as little grass as possible.

Voila! Youre out of the rough. If you catch the shot a little heavy, it will still find the fairway and give you a chance to pitch onto the green. If it “jumps” a bit, it may even find the green provided you hit it where you aim.

To reiterate, every shot from the rough is a little different. Thats why its important to learn the tips taught in this lesson: How to Read Your Lie in the Rough

Hitting from rough can be tricky business. Thats why they call it rough. Here are a few bonus tips for handling golfs trouble spots:

Steepen Your Swing to Escape Deep Rough

Play Run-Up Approach from Rough Close to the Green

Tom Watsons Delicate Chip from the Rough

Women: Correct Technique when Playing From Thick Rough

Seniors: Correct Technique when Playing From Thick Rough

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

The general idea is to get the ball up and out of thick grass with a descending blow. The longer the club, the shallower the clubs path into the ball, and the more likely it is to get hung up before contact. Plus, a low-lofted club may not propel the ball high enough to escape the roughs clutches. When in doubt, choose the shorter, more lofted iron or hybrid.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

A “flat” swing puts the club on a shallower, more horizontal path, allowing the tall grass to interfere. When the rough is especially dense, stand closer to the ball, pick up the club abruptly on the backswing, and swing down sharply.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

This, too, will shallow out the clubs angle into the ball. No good. Youre better off moving the ball toward the middle of your stance, which steepens the swing and gets the ball up more quickly.