Playing Out of the Rough - By: Daryl Shipos, PGA

I can’t believe we are already into May! All the signs are present: The birds are singing, the temperature is climbing, the trees are turning green and the rough on the golf course is thick, lush, and deep! While healthy turf on the golf course is beautiful to look at, it can present quite a problem for the average golfer trying to advance the ball toward the green.

For this reason, I have decided that offering a few tips on playing out of the rough was just as good a topic as any this time of year.

First and foremost, you must understand that every lie is different and how you play the shot can vary depending on several different factors. Is your ball sitting up or did it nestle down? Is the grass wet or dry? Are there any potential hazards between you and your target? Is there grass in front of the ball or behind it that could potentially affect your clubface through the hitting area? The point is: approach each shot from the rough with these questions in mind before you hit the ball.


Most shots from the rough can be made easier with a few tweaks to your setup. Widen your stance to improve your stability and balance. Grip down on the club slightly to lessen your chances of catching too much grass before the ball. (Hitting it fat) Tighten your grip pressure slightly to keep the clubface from being effected by the longer grass.


The most important thing to remember when playing from the rough is to make sure you hit the ball FIRST. A fat shot from the rough won’t go very far. One way to make sure you hit the ball first is by moving your ball position back slightly. The deeper the rough, the further back you should play the ball.


Any golf fan that has been around for the last decade can remember multiple occasions where Tiger Woods takes a huge rip with a long iron at a buried ball and his right leg comes off the ground. Let me make one point very clear. There are VERY FEW players in the world that can create the kind of speed and power necessary to pull off that shot. While fun to try, it won’t end well for your score AND your back. The good news is that we now have these golf clubs called hybrids! Hybrids are great from the rough. The way the club head is shaped allows it to travel through the grass without too much resistance. The bottom line: If you have a long shot from the deep rough, leave the 4 iron in the bag and grab your hybrid. If there is a forced carry or a hazard in your way, take your medicine and chip out into the fairway.

Another key aspect when choosing your club is the type of lie you have. If the ball is sitting down, play 1-2 more clubs as it will come out dead. If the ball is sitting up slightly and the grass is wet, beware. This is what is known as a “Flyer Lie.” The ball will come out hot with little spin and run. Adjust your club selection accordingly.

I certainly hope that these thoughts on playing from the rough help you the next time your find yourself missing fairways. Remember that no lie is the same and start to pay attention to how your golf ball reacts from every situation.

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to call your Cranberry Highlands Golf Professionals next time you find yourself in need of a lesson!