Get out of the greenside rough

How to hit a shot when you’re stuck in greenside rough and have no green to work with

In an ideal world we would always miss the green on the side opposite to where the pin is cut, giving us room to run the recovery shot up to the pin. But golf being golf, we can find ourselves short-sided, and often with the ball nestling in rough.

The shot presents a problem because you need speed to get the club through the long grass, but not distance as the pin is close to you. The solution is to use your set-up to create quick height, and develop a brisk, ‘popping’ rhythm to your attack. Here’s how:

Two keys to remember

Pin sharp

The closer the pin is to you, the more loft you must use to create a higher ight that stops the ball more quickly. But beware opening the face in thick rough as the club can go under the ball. 

Dry run

When your ball is in thick, tangly rough, make a few practice swings in similar grass to get a feel of how much it will grab the club. Keep away from the ball in case impact moves it 


Set Up: Address the ball for clean contact and quick height

Ball under buttons

For this shot we need a slight downward strike. That reduces the grass the club has to go through to reach the ball and preserves face loft. Play the ball under your buttons to promote that.

Grip it tighter

The thick grass will want to grab the neck of the club, twisting the face shut and delofting it. Double your regular grip pressure to resist that twisting effect and preserve face loft.

Add face loft

Rotate the handle to open the face before taking your grip. This adds loft to the clubface, helping you create a quick-rising ball ight – vital when you’ve no green to work with.

Narrow your stance

As you move your feet closer together you naturally steepen the arc of your action. With so much thick grass behind the ball, this will help you make cleaner contact.

Hit and hold

You need an aggressive strike with loft preserved. Achieve that by ‘popping’ the ball out, stopping the club as soon after impact as possible. This ‘hit-and-hold’ feel stops the face rotating and delivers a high launch.

Backswing: Quick Wrist Hinge

A sweeping action encounters more grass. So use your back swing to steepen your swing arc. Make a sharp wrist cock on the way back, the shaft pointing at the sky even before your lead arm reaches parallel.


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