No Rough to Tough Rough

Greg Ellis
Great Golf Academy
Goodyear, AZ

More Information

Recently, I took a trip back to Michigan and while there played golf at four golf courses with rough that was thick and tall. While watching the FedEx Cup Playoffs at Bethpage Black, you saw the PGA Tour players battle the 4 to 5 inch high rough and saw the players make adjustments in club selection and addressing the golf ball. With many of the local golf courses in the valley coming out of transition you are finding tall rough on many of the top golf courses. The thick rough will wreak havoc on the clubhead speed and cause very poor shot results. With this in mind, I want 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 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 two 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.

Have fun and remember, if you need help with this tip or any other, feel free to email me at or call me for a lesson at 623.328.5107.

Be sure to tune in to the Bunker to Bunker Golf Show every Saturday morning from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. or on Arizona Sports 620 or on the internet at for more tips and updates on all of the week’s golfing news in the Valley and around the world. Join Greg, Jim Hill, and Marty Monaghan for a comprehensive look at the golf world for the week.

Greg Ellis is also the General Manager at the Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia, in Peoria. Visit him and play the only 5-Star rated golf course by Golf Digest – Best Places. Call Greg at 623.328.5100 for a starting time.