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Golf Tips: Rough can be rough!

By: Shawn Kelly
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Once in a while we may hit our golf ball a bit off line and it finds the area we call the rough — the second cut of the fairway where the grass is a longer length.
 
We try at The Ridge to keep our rough around 2 inches deep but when I have played in any major tournament they let the rough get 5 to 8 inches. Wow, talk about rough! 
 
Vegetation can make it difficult to muscle the club head through to the ball. Why else would it be known as “rough.” Following are a few tips to help you extricate your ball from the deep cabbage.
 
The first thing to be concerned with is making contact between the club and the ball. If your ball is sitting up on top of the grass, you’ll be able to make pretty good contact and impart some spin. If the ball is sitting down in the grass then it will be nearly impossible to make good, crisp contact and you’ll need to adjust your club selection and target accordingly. 
 
Once you have determined the lie, club selection is the key. The deeper the ball is in the grass, the more loft you’ll need. Your first goal is to get the ball out so keep in mind that loft is our friend. Choose a club that will get the ball up quickly, like a short to a mid iron. Long irons or 3 woods don’t work well in these conditions. For longer shots a 5 wood or a 7 wood or the new hybrid clubs work well to cut through the grass. 
 
Another thing to consider in club selection is that the grass will take some spin off the ball and it will fly farther and run longer when it lands. This is called a “flyer lie” and it may make the ball go two or three clubs farther than you’d expect. 
 
Now that you have your weapon of choice, you’ll have to employ a swing that will give you the best contact possible. If you chunk it, you’ll leave it in the devil’s garden, so you must change your fundamentals slightly to get back in play. 
 
Your grip should be the same as in any other full shot, just keep it soft at the start and hold on through impact.
 
Aim the clubface slightly open because the long grass will tend to grab the hosel and close down the face, sending the ball to the left.
 
Play the ball slightly back in the stance to create a steeper angle of attack.
 
Your posture should be tall with a little more weight on the target side foot. This will help enhance that steeper angle needed and stabilize the body.
 
The last thing to think about is to take a couple of practice swings in a similar lie to get the feel of the grass and how the club will react and move through it. Swing as hard has possible to get through the grass, without losing control. 
 
Just remember the key is to get the ball out and advance it to a safer place. If you look down and can’t see your shoes, you may feel better using a weed whacker because this can be a tough shot, but that’s why they call it rough!