Rough And Tough Shots

Escape Tough Lies With Ease

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When your ball finds the deep rough like the position I'm in here, the smart play almost always is to take a higher-lofted club and either lay up or pitch the ball back into the fairway. Why you ask?

The shorter the club, the more descending the blow you're going to have into the golf ball. The longer the club, the flatter the angle you'll come into the ball. This is the main reason it's so difficult to hit longer irons and fairway woods from the rough. Because of the shallower angle of attack, there's too much rough coming into contact between the clubhead and ball, making it difficult not only to get the ball airborne, but also to move it out of the rough.

The right play? Punch it out to a comfortable distance in the fairway, with a high-lofted iron or wedge.

On a side note, because the rough is a lousy place to hit long irons and fairway woods, it's not an accident that hybrids are designed to be played with a steeper angle of descent. Try hitting your hybrid like a middle to short iron from the rough, and see if it helps you.


In this scenario, I have two options. I can go over the limbs hanging between the green and the golf ball, or I can go under them. Let's imagine the pin is on the short side and I need to hit it high and stop it quick. In this case, hitting over the limbs is the right shot.

To hit a high pitch, I like to keep things simple. Address the ball as you normally would with your high-lofted wedge, with the ball positioned center or slightly forward of center. Only now, concentrate on releasing the hands faster through impact. With a quicker release, the clubhead will outrace the hands and add both loft and bounce to the club. Because of this, don't be afraid to hit down aggressively onto the ball and use the club's bounce to avoid hitting a fat shot. As for your finish, the shaft should be vertical, as you see in the photo to the left. This is a sure sign of a quick, handsy release through the ball.

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