The Ultimate Rough Recovery Guide

Published 23/08/2008 21:05:48

On every course you can find different types of rough - dense and sparse, long and short, fairway and greenside. Alas, so can your ball.


If you're lucky, rough is no more difficult than playing from the fairway. But introduce a hazard or two, add a more challenging lie and a recovery shot from rough is a demanding test.


Common sense is often more important than being a master magician at shot making. Know what you can do and resist the temptation to try any more. Don't risk turning a minor mistake into a potential disaster - landing in even the most severe rough need never cause you to run up a high score.


Even Seve Ballesteros - a genius at recovery play - confesses he'd have more trophies on display in his living room if he'd known when to exercise a little self control earlier in his career


Lie Matters


Study the lie carefully - this has a tremendous bearing on how ambitious you can afford to be with your recovery. A vital point is that it's harder to control the ball from rough ground. Backspin is very hard to achieve and shaping the ball through the air is difficult.


Look at which direction the grass is growing around your ball. If the grass is with you (leaning towards the target) it's easier to strike the ball cleanly without making adjustments to your swing.


If the grass is against you, a more precise strike is required. The clubhead must come down at a steep angle to prevent too much grass coming between the clubface and ball at impact.


Don't rule out the possibility of a flyer, particularly if the rough is wet. This can add yards to the flight of your shots.


A Rough Ride

phil mickelson playing from fairway rough

When you hit a tee shot into rough lining the fairway, survey the entire hole as you approach your ball. You then have a clearer picture of the situation when you come to prepare for the shot.


If the ball is sitting down, you may have to accept that the green is out of reach. Decide on a club you're confident with - one that guarantees a comfortable escape from the rough and puts you in a good position for your next shot.


If the green is in range, don't forget it's hard to apply spin from rough, so pitch the ball short and allow for a little run on the shot. From a good lie you can almost afford to play your normal game but you still must allow for less backspin. Don't expect to stop the ball quickly, even if it's lying cleanly.


Salvaging Shots

playing from greenside rough


In greenside rough the first concern is the lie. You should have a fair idea long before you reach the green - if you can see your ball from a distance you can expect a reasonable lie.


You immediately have a greater choice of shots open to you. Hazards shouldn't present you with a problem - you can safely negotiate your way around every form of obstacle.


If you can't see your ball as you approach it, prepare for the worst. A bad lie limits your options so resign yourself to salvaging what you can without a big gamble.


Check out how much green you have to work with - if you're not sure of the exact distance, try standing to the side of your ball for a better view.


Flying High Or Low


If there are bunkers to carry, a high float shot  with a soft landing is called for, particularly if there's not much green to work with. Treat the shot as you would if you were in the bunker - the same techniques in a different situation serve you well.


Adopt an open stance with you ball central, or slightly towards your back foot if the rough is very thick. Swing back steeply by breaking the wrists early and strike down firmly into the bottom of the ball. The clubhead cuts through the grass from out to in and the ball pops up high in the air.


You may have to play a low trajectory shot at any time - perhaps to avoid overhanging branches. Depending on the lie, your club selection may vary from a long iron down to as little as an 8 iron.


Judge the height and the amount of run on the ball match the club best suited to the shot. Play the ball back in your stance and grip down the club for extra control. Strike down crisply, leading the clubhead into impact with your hands.


Calculated Risk


Much depends on the situation when you decide how ambitious you are with your recovery. If you're on a good score in a competition, it usually pays to play cautiously. You can then limit the damage and move on the to the next hole with your card intact.


In a relaxed game there's less at stake so you can afford to be more adventurous when you make your decision. You learn a valuable lesson whichever option you decide to take, and whether it's a success or not.

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1.  Great guide but it doesn't tell me the most important thing: how to find my ball!

comment by Alex Wooldford - 01/07/2009 10:17

2.  This site is Into The Rough but this is Out Of The Rough - make your mind up guys!

comment by Joe Golf Pro - 03/08/2012 15:26

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