Be Open to Tough Rough

Greg Ellis
Great Golf Academy
Goodyear, AZ

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While watching the PGA Tour players battle the 4 to 7 inch high rough at the Waste Management Phoenix Open this month, you saw the players make adjustments in club selection and addressing the golf ball. The thick rough will reek havoc on the clubhead speed and cause very poor shot results. With this in mind, I want to give you some important information to help you get out of the long tall thick rough without hurting yourself while hitting a pretty good golf shot.

• First of all, determine the distance of the golf shot and  determine the club you would select if your golf ball were in the fairway. For the sake of discussion, the shot remaining is 160 yards and your normal club is a 6-iron.

• Take one extra club. By this I mean, use your 5-iron instead of the 6. This will allow the golf ball to travel close to the same distance as the shot from the fairway. The reason being, when the club returns back to impact the ball the clubhead speed will be slowed down significantly by the thick rough, thus not allowing the ball to go as far.

• Your grip, alignment and set-up will remain the same as a shot from the fairway. The difference will be in the way the club is used starting at the address position. There are approximately 3 – 4 degrees of loft difference between the 5 and 6 irons. Therefore, to achieve optimal results out of the rough and to cut through it, turn the clubface slightly open, creating more loft on the club. This will accomplish important results of the golf shot; first it will turn the 5-iron into the 6-iron and secondly it will allow the club to slice through the thick rough easier. With the clubhead slicing through the thick rough easier, it will get under the ball and lift it out of the rough like a normal golf shot.

• There is a tendency for the golf ball to come out of the grass lower than normal. This is why you open the clubhead on the 5-iron. The heel of the club will make contact with the grass and not only slow the speed down but also close the head down, as well. This will result in the golf ball not traveling as far. By compensating for this with the use of the 5-iron, your goal will be accomplished.
As always, if you need assistance with this tip or any other golf tip, visit one of the Southwest Section PGA professionals near you.

Remember to switch over to ARIZONASPORTS 620 AND NOW ON 98.7 FM every Saturday morning from 7:00 to 9:00 for the Bunker to Bunker Golf Show for more tips, and updates on all of the week’s golfing news in the Valley and around the world. Join Greg, Marty Monaghan and Jim Hill for a comprehensive look at the golf world for the week. You can also catch them on the internet by going to, click on sports then click on listen now.

And, remember if you have any questions about this drill or would like to have a drill featured, feel free to contact Greg at