When I see golfers in this situation, with the ball against the rough collar, they're usually trying to create some crazy shot. They'll play the ball back and chop it, or try to bump it with a 3–wood. Those things can work, but you never practice them. Instead, do something you do every hole: Putt it.
Well, not exactly. You're going to make a putting stroke using your sand wedge. With its heavy sole, the sand wedge will slide through the rough without getting stuck. Take your normal putting grip and stance—remember, everything about this is a putt, not a chip. The trick is, you want to strike the middle of the ball with the leading edge of the club. Set up with the clubhead off the ground, and line up that leading edge with the ball's equator. Then, make your normal putting stroke, focusing on a level strike. The ball will skid forward and roll like a putt.
I'll admit I've gotten good at putting with a wedge—I used to have a knack for snapping putters mid-round. But you, too, can learn this handy technique.
Sometimes when you miss a green you get a good lie in the rough—even too good. With the ball perched up, the danger is sliding the clubhead under it. Stand tall at address and make a sweeping motion, trying to pick the ball off the top. Start with the clubhead level with the ball, then make a mini turn back and through, keeping your legs very quiet.
Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.