Swinging from the rough: tips on getting out of the high grass
For those of us not blessed with pin-point accuracy, playing from the fairway rough is an inevitability. While cursing might be the initial impulse, Raven Golf Club at Three Peaks course pro Mark Nickel suggests taking a minute to analyze your situation. While every lie is different, he, along with Breckenridge Golf Club assistant pro Robbins Manley, offered some suggestions for handling the high grass.
Perhaps first and foremost, be grateful you’re not at a PGA tour event, as you would have even tougher roughs to contend with. On a standard course, roughs are usually only about 2 1/2 inches tall.
Next, “take an evaluation of how the rough is,” said Nickel. “If you’re lucky, on top of the rough like a tee,” there is little need for adjustment.
On the other hand, “if the lie is terrible, your first goal is to get back to the fairway,” said Manley.
“Take a shorter club, don’t be as greedy,” Nickels suggested.
The biggest problem they both see is with a golfers swing.
“Where people go tragically wrong is trying to lift the ball and not let the club do the work,” said Manley. It’s one of the most common mistakes in a variety of shots, according to both Nickel and Manely. From the rough, they recommend golfers having the ball a little further back in their stance, so that the club is hitting on a descending angle.
“Make the club do the work,” said Robbins.
Nickels reminds golfers to also keep grass between the ball and the club. “Take a pretty good divot,” he suggests.
He adds that, “Most people try to get too much out of the shot.”
Sometimes going for the green isn’t the answer.
“Hit a loftier club to get back into play,” he said. Aiming the shot back to the fairway is often a safer alternative.
Manley also points out that, generally, for the average golfer, a shot hit from the rough will tend to roll more than a shot from the fairway, because of a lack of backspin. So,“take less club and let it roll,” he said
Nickel also frequently advocates a hybrid club for light rough. “Your consistency will go way up,” he said.
Hitting through the rough has a tendency to close a golfer’s club face, especially with irons, leading to less accurate shots. Hybrid clubs offer a larger club head that will swing through rough more effectively, keeping the club face straight. Their large sweet spot also creates more of a margin for error.
Hybrid clubs, a cross between a wood and an iron, have become increasingly popular over the last decade. They provide good lift, and their shorter shafts make it easier to maintain a smooth swing through the ball.
“Almost every pro has a hybrid or two in their bag,” said Nickel.
But if you are deeper in the rough, Manley still suggests a short iron.
As always, while these suggestions may help, just reading an article won’t fix your golf game. It takes practice and repetition. Taking a lesson and hearing it directly from a pro can’t hurt either. Having someone to watch will go further than any written word.
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