In a few short weeks, birds will be singing, trees and flowers flourishing, and one other thing will become lush and green and stringy and tall and juicy: the rough on your golf course.
Since most golf courses have watered fairways, the roughs stay challenging throughout the spring and summer, and the tall grass close to the greens is a rugged test.
The most difficult short shot in golf is the pitch shot close to the green out of heavy, tall rough. This is true for golfers of all skill levels.
When you’re faced with one of these short pitch shots-in grass that is one and a half to four or five inches tall-the best club is your sand wedge. This club has a heavy flange that is just as helpful in getting the clubface through the tall grass as it is sand. A pitching wedge or 8- or 9-iron doesn’t have enough weight or loft for this particular shot. The only exception to this is when you have a lot of green to work with and want to hit a long pitch-and-run shot that squirts out of the rough.
Several fundamentals for the pitch from deep rough are different from the same shot from the fairway, but most are the same. The setup is the same; you take an open stance with your hands slightly ahead of the ball and your weight mainly on your left foot and leg. Play the ball off the middle of your stance with the clubface slightly or fully open, depending on the length of the pitch. The most important difference from a pitch out of the rough and one in the fairway is that-in the rough- you have to grip the club more firmly than normal, particularly with your left hand. If you don’t, the clubhead will turn when it catches the heavy grass and cause a poor shot.
Sand shots and pitches from heavy grass have one thing in common: each must be practiced diligently in order to develop the confidence needed to hit the shot successfully during competition. When you practice, give yourself some poor lies in the tall grass. Even though there are a number of similarities between the sand shot and a pitch out of the rough, subtle differences exist. Each shot must be practiced until you have the fundamentals down pat.
The first thing to concentrate on is bringing the club up quickly by breaking your wrists sooner than normal, much like a sand shot. If you don’t, the clubhead will come into the shot on a low arc and catch too much grass before it moves the ball. It’s important to have a clear mental picture of what the clubface and ball will do during