TIP FROM THE TOP by John Powell, Director of Golf, Plantation Bay Golf & Country Club, Ormond Beach, FL — “ESCAPING THE ROUGH”
With the warm temperatures this summer, the rough is at an all-time high. Hopefully, these pointers will help you escape the thick grass a little easier. Before we even discuss strategy, it is important to understand what the rough will do to the ball and the clubface: The thicker the grass, the more the clubface will tend to slow down/close through impact,
as a result the ball starts out well left of the target. The most difficult task is reading/guessing what your lie will do. Sometimes, the ball comes out with a lot of speed and no spin and other instances it plops down just a few feet in front of us.
When you are facing an approach shot to the green from the rough, there are a few important questions to ask yourself: 1) Can I reach the green? 2) Are there any major hazards in my landing area?
If you believe that the “coast is clear”, use your most lofted club that you think will get you to the green. Open up the clubface a little bit, which will offset the clubface closing down too much through impact. Also, taking a little steeper swing (think “chopping wood” motion as opposed to a “baseball swing”) will help you get the ball out.
If you are the least bit unsure of either being able to reach the green and/or having too many obstacles in your way, opt for a lay-up. Again, use a more lofted club (i.e. sand wedge, gap wedge, pitching wedge). Make sure you get your ball back in the fairway at all cost so you are not compounding your mistake. Making a few bogeys doesn’t inflate the score all that much.
When it comes to greenside rough, similar tips mentioned above hold true: Choose a lofted club (sand wedge, lob wedge) and let the bottom of the club slide though the grass. The key is to keep the clubface open through impact and even afterwards. Because you are dealing with a lot of loft, you can allow yourself to really swing to a somewhat fuller finish. If you still encounter the ball starting out left of your target, open up the clubface at address and swing away!
Whether you are in the rough next to the fairway or the green, remember that getting the ball back in play for another approach shot or for a putt is your number one priority.