When your ball is suspended in a bush or a tuft of tall grass, the first thing to do is channel your inner Seve Ballesteros. Like him, always be confident you can pull off the shot.
Use a wedge or 9-iron, and grip down an inch for control. Here's the key: Hover the clubhead at the ball's height. If you swing under the ball, you might make it fall deeper into the bush. Rehearse the swing in a similar area if possible.
Once you've got a feel for the shot, aim for the top half of the ball—you'll naturally go lower when you swing—and take a rip at it. Don't worry about making a big follow-through.
Before you try this shot, ask yourself two questions: (1) Is at least half of the ball above the water? (2) Do I have a pair of rainpants to slip on? If you answer no to either question, you might want to take a drop.
But if the ball isn't submerged and you don't mind getting wet, think of this as a bunker shot. Grab a wedge, and open the face before taking your grip. Set up with your body aligned well left of the target.
Make a steep swing and try to enter the water as close to the ball as possible. Don't expect it to go far (and keep your mouth closed). Hit one or two of these a year, and you'll be a clubhouse legend.
Unless you're buried in six-inch rough, you should be able to advance the ball toward the green. But getting back to the fairway should be your priority. Select a club with decent loft, and set up with the face pointing slightly right of your target. This will offset the tendency for the face to close when grass wraps around the hosel at impact. Also, grip a little tighter with your left hand.
Pick the club up steeply, and swing down with your wrists staying firm—no scooping to try to help dig the ball out. These adjustments will help you power through the thick grass.
A fried-egg lie in a bunker can be easy to escape, but don't swing like it's a normal bunker shot. Instead of opening the clubface, close it. And lighten your grip—you want the face to spin open when the clubhead contacts the sand. That's what will get the ball airborne.
Put a fraction more weight on your front foot at address to help you chop down on it. Think about leaving the clubhead in the sand instead of swinging through it. So it's steep back, steep down. The ball will come out hot and run. Remember, the goal is to get it on the putting surface.