By Jeff Ritter
Photo by Charles Lindsay
When you're done cycling through the typical phases of a golfer's mental state after hitting one in deeper rough—from disappointment to anger to anguish to finally, resignation—give yourself a healthy slap in the face (glove hand, preferred) and cue the internal "Raiders of the Lost Ark" theme song. You've got this.
Not only are you going to put the ball back in play, you're going to give yourself a decent chance of hitting the green. It helps to have the right attitude, but what really matters are the adjustments you make to your club selection, setup and swing. They're not that complicated, and remembering to do even a few of them can help keep you from playing your next shot a couple of steps in front of where you are now. So take heed.
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First, club selection. If the green is too far away for a short iron—which is always the smartest option from the rough—go with a hybrid or higher-lofted fairway wood instead of a longer iron when the lie isn't that bad. It's a judgment call, but I wouldn't use anything more than a short iron for the scary lie you see here. But why a hybrid instead of a long iron? The wider sole gets through the grass more easily, so you don't have to throw your back out to reach a green.
Second, address. Make sure the ball is no farther forward than center in your stance, grip down a touch on the club, and put a little more pressure on your front foot. This will make it easier to get the clubhead back to the ball with as little interference from the grass as possible. Also keep in mind that the blades tend to tangle around the club, which can twist the face shut. That makes it a lot harder to get the ball up and out. To counteract this, set the clubface a touch open and hold on to the grip a little tighter.
Third, the swing. Adopt a takeaway where the hands hinge the clubhead abruptly upward, certainly more than they would for a fairway lie. This sets up that sharper angle down into the ball you want for decent contact.
I realise that sounds like a lot to remember, and many of you are looking for that "one thing" to hit this shot. Fair enough. Here's your swing thought: up and oomph. Up means a steeper takeaway to help avoid the grass, and oomph means swinging down with an aggressive attitude. Feel like you're going to power through whatever dares to stand in your way, and your clubhead will reach the ball with plenty of energy.
The greenkeeper might think his rough is tough, but we know better. — With Ron Kaspriske