What a bonus it is to find your ball in the thick rough when you were about to declare it lost. Well, kind of. Sometimes wish you hadn’t been so fortunate, especially when you get a horror lie. A couple of swishes later and there’s a blob on the card.
Fear not, because with a few simple swing changes you can master this escape shot and save par every time. Here, PGA Professional Alistair Davies guides us through how to hit a golf ball out of thick rough. It actually rounds rather simple…
1. Club selection – take more loft
Firstly, you need to be realistic. From thick rough, you should forget about trying to advance the ball 200 yards – it’s not going to happen. You’ve got to take enough loft to make sure you can get the ball out, which means putting your 5-iron back in the bag and, depending on just how thick the rough is, taking out one of your wedges, or maybe a 9-iron.
“It’s about taking your medicine and getting the ball back in play,” says Davies. “The long rough tangles the hosel, the bottom end of the shaft where it connects to the club. The long grass grabs hold of it and it closes and delofts the clubhead. That’s why the ball comes out low and more left, so open the clubface a touch as well to offset this.”
Now you know why you sometimes drill the ball even further into the thick stuff.
2. Get the ball back in your stance
What you’re after is a steeper angle of attack – and this encourages just that. “You want to minimise the amount of grass getting trapped between the clubface and the ball,” says Davies. “A steeper angle will help. Think short and sharp so you reduce that interference with the grass.”
3. Weight forward, neutral stance
It also helps to drive the ball out if you put a bit more weight on your lead foot, about 60 per cent according to Davies. Then, keep a neutral stance because you’re going to be looking to hit the ball quite hard.
4. Set the wrists earlier in the backswing
This might sound fairly technical, especially if we said ‘radial deviation’, which is one of the terms pros use. It means loading or cocking the wrists earlier to help get that steeper, narrower swing arc that you’re after. There’s less interference with the grass and your contact is likely to be a lot cleaner.
“I talk about letting the water run out of the shaft for an analogy for the steeper plane and early wrist cock,” adds Davies.
5. Grip the club firmer
This is not necessarily a piece of advice you’ll hear too often, but in cases like this it’s going to help prevent the club twisting in the grass. You’ve seen the pros hacking out of the thick rough during Open week, something they tend to do very well. Being built like Brooks Koepka will help, but it’s not all about muscle.
6. Hit it hard
That said, a bit of muscle helps. Just remember, hitting it hard in this scenario is likely to have a positive effect, so long as you stay in sync.
“The grass is going to take a lot of speed out of the club, so hit it as hard as you can with your weight on the front foot,” says Davies. “It’s going to come out low and run a lot more than normal. There’s no friction created because of the grass trapped between the club and the ball, so be mindful of that, too.
7. Take some practice swings
True, this is something most golfers do as part of their routine, but in this case you’re looking to get more of a feel of how the club will respond going through the grass.
“You can’t be sure of how the ball is going to come out, but you’ll get a better idea if you take a couple of practice swings alongside your ball to see how the rough is likely to interfere with your swing,” says Davies.
Just make sure you’re a good distance away from your ball so not to improve your lie and break any rules. Now you’re good to go. No more big numbers on the card when you stray off line into the thick hay.
So there you have it – our 7-step guide on how to hit a golf ball out of thick rough.
You can read more golf tips and watch Alistair’s instruction videos here.