Be Open to Tough Rough

Greg Ellis
Great Golf Academy
Goodyear, AZ

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I was playing the Stadium Course at the TPC Scottsdale the other day and the golf course is getting close to tournament conditions for the upcoming Waste Management Phoenix Open later this month. We were informed by the Starter that the rough was already three inches high. Well, that in itself is no big deal; rather the thickness of the rough is the main factor and that 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. 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 to two extra clubs. By this I mean, use your 4 or 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 two important results of the golf shot; first it will turn the 4 or 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 4 or 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 4 or 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.

I would like to wish all of you a happy and prosperous New Year and may all of your drives be straight and long and all of your putts be made.

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