Top 100 Teacher: How to learn from pros hacking out of U.S. Open rough

June 15, 2019

One of the first things you notice when you come to Pebble Beach, once you recover from the sheer beauty and stunning vistas, is that the greens are tiny and the rough is long. Very long.

And there seems to be a lot of different rough: crazy thick-like a forrest rough, longer swirling grass rough, rough that looks like it might give you a chance, and and rough that lays down and leans hard in one direction.

The players this week have spent plenty of time practicing in the rough and I have found it quite interesting to watch them really practice hitting from the worst possible lies. I think there is a good message for all of us in there: that we certainly should not always practice from perfect conditions. We need to prepare for the bad situations, so we know how to handle it.

Most players show the rough a lot of respect, take their medicine and just take a lofted club and advance the ball into a better position, rather than pressing the situation and getting themselves into real trouble.

Something to keep in mind: If the best players in the world are being conservative, you probably should, too.

The key to successfully advancing the ball from the rough includes proper club selection and technique. Typically you will take a more lofted club to help to get the ball up and out of the rough — a good general rule is the worse the lie the more lofted club you should select.

As a more lofted club is selected you also want to consider where will you aim, considering the path of least resistance. What is the quickest path back to the short grass?

The goal with proper contact is to set up so that the club will make it’s initial contact with the ball, limiting as much as possible, how much grass gets in between the club face and the ball. Too much grass can twist the face at impact and also would certainly decrease the distance the ball could travel. This will be accomplished through set up adjustments.

Ball position should be moved farther back in the stance, once again to help the club hit the ball before the grass.

Weigh should be more on the forward foot and this is important as it will drop the forward shoulder which then allows the club to approach the ball on more of an angular approach, rather than sweeping and this will help with contact as well.

If you choose to play your ball position very far back in your stance, you may also need to drop your forward foot back a few inches. This will help to realign your shoulders and also when your forward foot is dropped back it makes it much easier to keep your weight there throughout.

Because of the forward lean and the weight staying forward the swing will automatically be slightly abbreviated as flexibility can be limited when weight stays forward to improve contact.

The forward swing will also be slightly abbreviated as you want to make sure to keep your arms and the club moving forward to minimize the twisting of the face.

The last step to being successful out of the very deep rough is to swing with some speed, about as aggressively as you can down and through.

Learning from the players this week and understanding proper technique will help you have success in any rough, even US Open rough.