April showers bring May flowers … and deep, thick rough. So, let’s discuss how you can navigate these lies like the pros. 

By James Standhardt

Welcome to late spring, where tight lies and dormant grasses give way to wrist-breaking fescue and club-snagging second cuts. Winter golf is a thing of the past and courses are beginning to show their teeth.

So now is the time for you to do the same.

One of the most difficult and fairly misunderstood shots in golf is the shot from deep rough, ranging from just off the green out to a pitch of around 50 yards. A lot of golfers struggle to keep the clubhead strong through impact in the deep stuff, leading to weak and chunked shots that don’t find the green. This shot can be mastered, however, with some simple understanding of how to use the loft and bounce of your wedges.

The Four Keys to Mastery

As GolfTEC’s Jon Levy covered in an article last October, shots from deep rough are much easier to master with a higher lofted wedge. This affords the player more bounce, an open face and higher launch angle to get the ball up and out of a deep lie as quickly as possible.

But let’s take this a step further and discuss four key concepts to help gain even more confidence with these shots:

1. Loft up … at address.

Open Club Face Rough

Playing out of thick rough requires a significant amount of clubhead speed to get a consistent, predictable result. Typically, faster swing speed means a shot that travels farther. That’s where the higher exposed loft comes in, so we can swing faster but throw the ball higher and land it softly on the green, without worrying about flying our target.

As a rule of thumb, turning the grip of the club about a half inch to the right (open for a right-handed player), or about 10 to 15 degrees, before gripping the club will expose enough loft to swing aggressively. Additionally, setting up with the face open will also expose a higher degree of bounce on the sole of the club, making it easier to hit down through the rough without the club digging into the ground!

2. Grip down on the club.

hands_low_gripIn addition to opening the clubface, setting up with your hands lower down on the handle than normal will offset this opening and further allow the bounce of the club to work with your lie. This is what allows for a high, short ball flight … i.e. CONTROL.

Additionally, gripping down slightly on the shaft can also serve to shorten the backswing and distance the ball travels, allowing for more aggressive swings from around the green. This can help you feel confident in a full shot, rather than getting caught in between swing speeds.

3. Check your ball position. Deep Rough Setup Sternum

Because we’re trying to strike the ground just behind the ball on this type of shot and utilize the bounce of the wedge, having the ball at the sternum is a great starting point.

A simple way to judge this is to pinch your wedge with two fingers right in front of your sternum and let the shaft plumb-bob down, hanging freely and vertically. That point should be directly on top of the golf ball when your weight is slightly toward the target.

4. Hinge. Strike. Hold 

The aspect of this shot amateurs tend to struggle with the most is proper wrist hinge. Because we need to create speed and a steep, descending attack angle, using the wrists in the backswing is critical to producing repeatable shots. After setting the wrist hinge early, you should be able to create a downward strike through the ball by unhinging the wrists in the downswing. The key, however, is to keep the club from re-hinging excessively in the follow-through.

Deep Rough Hinge Strike Hold
The concept of hinge-strike-hold — HINGE up, STRIKE down, HOLD through the follow-through — is a great rule of thumb to generate proper interaction with the sole of the wedge and the turf. The follow-through on this shot will also ideally only be as long, or shorter than, the backswing to ensure the clubhead doesn’t start moving upward to early through impact.

The proper movement of this concept, along with implementation of the other setup elements, will have you saving par from the deep stuff this summer in no time.

For more tips like this and all the latest instruction, news and equipment information, check out the GolfTEC Scramble daily and find a GolfTEC Improvement Center near you to start playing better golf today!


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