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To Escape the Rough You Just Need a New Perspective

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Scottie Scheffler plays a shot on the first hole during a practice round prior to the US Open at The Country Club.Getty Images

Have you ever thought of looking at a lie in the rough from the ball’s perspective? I believe if you did, it would unlock why amateurs tend to fail when the grass gets long. 
Look at this picture of the ball sitting in US Open rough at The Country Club.
Do you see any way out? Of course not, yet players will go after this ball with a hybrid or a mid-iron. The ball needs to go up to get out!
When you face a lie in the rough move that ball back in your stance. This will steepen your angle of attack. That helps get the club closer to the back of the ball assisting better contact.
When you choose the club, consider how quickly the ball needs to be lifted out of the lie. Does it need to be a helicopter or a plane to take off.
If straight up is the only option, choose a wedge and take your medicine. Never forget to aim toward the fairway. As a PGA Coach, I have witnessed so many players forget to aim and hit a decent shot that finishes back in the rough.
Sometimes the ball will sit on top of the grass. If grass is going the same direction as you are, use it as a runway and take off. Setup for a normal shot and follow through like a stock swing. If you are against the grain or sideways, it’s time to strap into that whirley bird again and go up.
The last lie I have seen is the dreaded traditional fescue grass. It may look beautiful but imagine being this ball.
Even safety is a concern in this case. The thicker the grass, the less likely it will even come out. Discretion is always the better part of valor. If you can’t see much of the ball, pick it up and take an unplayable lie.
Should that long grass be sparse, then take swing. Use the most lofted club in your bag and realize that long wispy grass will grab that shaft and force you to pull it. Aim accordingly and give it a try.
Playing from the rough isn’t impossible. It just takes handling the situation from the correct point of view. The next time you face a rough situation, imagine how you would get out if you were the ball.
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