13 Ways to Fix Your Game: Rough

13 Ways to Fix Your Game: Rough

Fix Your Ups and Downs

Control your clubface

When you miss greens, you have to be prepared to hit a variety of shots. At your next practice session, experiment with your chip shots. Hit one regular chip, then hit one with an open clubface and one with a closed clubface. On the course, use your open-face chip when you don’t have much room between yourself and the hole, or from long rough. Close the face if you have room to run the ball or you’re hitting from hardpan. Note: When opening or closing your clubface, look to the leading edge, not the toe. You’ll get a better sense of the true angle of the club.

Close face to run the ball. Open face in tight spots

Scramble like Cook

A quarter of a century into his professional career, John Cook can still hang with the big boys, in large part because he makes pars 66% of the time after missing the green.

“The only thing I think about after missing a green is making par. I just focus on my landing spot and make sure the ball is moving slowly as it nears the hole.”
-John Cook

PGA Tour Most Improved Scrambling (up and down after missing green)
Player 2005 Scrambling/Rank 2006 Scrambling/Rank Improvement (%/Rank)
John Cook 53%/184th 62.4%/11th +9.4%/+173
Brent Geilberger 54.6%/164th 61.9%/15th +7.3%/+149
Ian Poulter 53.1%/180th 60.3%/32nd +7.2%/+148
Paul Azinger 55.8%/140th 62.9%/9th +7.1%/+131
PGA Tour Average: 57.2%

Fix Your Rough Escapes

Ignore the stop signs

The main difference between golfers who play well out of the rough and those who don’t can be found in their follow-throughs — or lack thereof. Don’t make the mistake of becoming so concerned with gouging the ball out that you stop your swing at contact—make sure that you follow through completely. That doesn’t mean that you should turn your right hand over your left after impact, however. Keep the clubface open and you’ll add some height to your shot.

Hit your Mark
Shots that miss the green usually end up in the rough, making a tough situation even tougher. No problem for Tour veteran Mark Brooks, who leapfrogged 119 players by knocking greenside shots from the rough 2.4 feet closer in 2006.

“The key to playing from the thick stuff is a good imagination. In the old days we did it all with a sand wedge. Nobody had a 60-degree wedge. You had to be a little more creative—opening the face, closing it, etc.—and I think that’s helped me.”
-Mark Brooks

PGA Tour Most Improved Proximity to the hole from rough (inside 30 yards)
Player 2005 Proximity/Rank 2006 Proximity/Rank Improvement (Distance/Rank)
Mark Brooks 9’0″/120th 6’8″/1st -2’4″/+119
D.A. Points 9’10″/178th 7’8″/24th -2’2″/+154
Thomas Levet 9’3″/151st 7’2″/12th -2’1″/+139
Pat Perez 9’4″/161st 7’5″/16th -1’11″/+145
PGA Tour Average: 8’6″