There’s no better time to talk about how to get out of the rough than U.S. Open week. As the best players in the world deal with the thick rough at Erin Hills, we figured you could use a few tips on how to handle the rough at your course. Bill Schmedes III, one of our Golf Digest Best Young Teachers out of Fiddler’s Elbow in N.J. says that he sees players make two major mistakes when they’re hitting out of thick rough.
First, he sees players try to hit more club than they should. It’s a common mistake that people justify by saying the rough is going to take yardage off their shot, so they need to club up. Schmedes says what they don’t realize is that they’re leaving themselves with a club that doesn’t have enough loft to get the ball out.
“Take a higher lofted club because it’s easier to advance the ball,” says Schmedes. “Don’t be a hero and try to hit a lower lofted club because the yardage tells you to.”
When you set up, Schmedes says to put the ball back in your stance about an inch and a half. “Choke down and aim more to the right (if you’re right handed),” says Schmedes, “because the rough will tend to shut the face down through impact.”
The second mistake Schmedes say people make when they’re trying to hit out of thick rough is that they try to help the ball out of the lie. “This creates too shallow of an angle of attack,” says Schmedes,” which allows too much grass to get between the clubface and the ball.”
Instead of trying to lift the ball out of the rough, Schmedes says to think about these swing motions instead. “Limit any lateral movement off the ball. To do this, think about your head staying in a fixed position as the body tilts and turns around it.” He also says to stand a little taller at address. This will keep your upper body from tilting forward too much, which means your angle of attack will be steep. That’s going to limit how much grass gets between the clubface and the ball.
Schmedes’ last tip is to make sure you turn all the way through the ball. “I see a lot of amateur players hang back and throw the club at the ball instead of turning through. Keeping your body turn going through the ball, past impact and all the way to the finish will help move the bottom of the swing forward. This allows the player to strike the ball first and the ground second.”
Cleaner contact means you’ll get out of the rough easier. We’re not saying you’re going to have a two-footer for birdie, but you’ll certainly be able to get yourself out of the thick stuff.