You’ve hit your drive too well and it’s through the fairway into a sidehill lie in the rough. You have two choices:
• Play it safe back to the fairway or,
• Go for the green, a shot that requires a carry over two bunkers that stand between you and the putting surface like a couple of Dobermans.
What should you do?
When the top of the grass is higher than your ball…
Your goal should be to hit your next shot from the fairway. If you can leave yourself at a fullswing distance for a wedge, that’s a bonus. Deep rough is grabby so expect the clubface to shut as soon as it hits the grass. Offset this effect by aligning right of your target and slightly increasing the grip pressure in the last three fingers of your left hand to reduce twisting. The trick to hitting a good pitch out of deep rough is to let as little grass as possible slip between the clubface and the ball.
Take your sand wedge and play the ball about two inches back of center. Place 60 percent of your weight over your front leg, and, since the ball is below your feet, get lower by flexing your knees more. Hinge your wrists quickly as you start your backswing to encourage a sharply descending strike.
If any portion of the ball is above the top of the grass…
You can go for it with a hybrid or highlofted 7- or 9-wood. The wide sole of these clubs reduces the chance that you’ll hit the ball fat. Position the ball in the middle of your stance and make sure your hands are slightly ahead of the ball.
The shaft should lean forward. Make a threequarter swing to maintain your balance. Do not lean back or try to help the ball into the air; drive your weight off your back leg and rotate your hips around your front leg to deliver more power. If you’re worried that you might fly the green, choke down on the grip about two inches to reduce the carry by 10 yards. You have a flier lie because the grooves won’t grab the ball. Your shot will have less backspin, so plan for it to run. Aim for the front edge of the green and let the ball release to the hole.