How to Pitch From the Rough in Golf

By Matthew DeBord

On the course, the rough is meant to be a challenge. You hit an inaccurate shot, and so now you have to deal with a less-than-perfect lie. Pitching from the rough doesn't have to be difficult, however. A golfer just needs to use the right technique and take a few extra things into account when executing the shot.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Check your lie. Depending on the length, thickness and type of grass that makes up the rough you've found yourself in, you may want to use different techniques and even different clubs.
Step 2
Use the sand wedge for a poor lie. The combination or the sand wedge's loft and bounce will help extract the ball from a nasty lie. If the ball is nestled down in the rough, if the grass is especially thick, or if the rough is long, grab the sand wedge. Also, if the rough is wet, the sand wedge is the best club to use.
Step 3
From a reasonable lie, use the pitching wedge. The pitching wedge has a bit more loft than the sand wedge and will give amateurs more distance out of the rough, increasingly their chances of either advancing the ball down the fairway or hitting the green.
Step 4
Hit down on the ball and be aggressive. The big problem in the rough is that grass will come between the clubface and the ball during the strike. This can lead to everything from bad contact to poor distance control, due to the lack of spin imparted on the ball. The key is to make a firm, downward strike, with a steeper swing that usual. This will minimize the amount of grass that gets in between the clubface and the ball.
Step 5
Hold the clubface open during the strike. Rough will "grab" the club and close the clubface, causing the ball to come out low and left (for a right hander). What you want instead is high and straight. In order to achieve this, avoid releasing, or turning over, the club though impact.

Tips & Warnings

If the rough is extremely thick, hit the pitch like a bunker shot. Take the sand wedge and hit a few inches behind the ball, striking through the rough as if it were sand in a bunker. Be sure to open the face, which will activate the bounce of the club, allowing it to slide through the thick grass. Make an aggressive swing, accelerating through the shot and following through to your target.
Don't use a death grip. You need some speed and acceleration to get through the rough. Excessively firm grip pressure will make this more difficult. However, you don't want your grip to be so light that the clubface will turn over through impact. Don't be afraid to swing too hard. A slow swing will create a bad shot more often than an aggressive swing. All the best players try to accelerate the club when pitching from the rough. If the lie is absolutely terrible, take the sand wedge and try to strike the ball with a square face, "hacking" down on top of it, almost as if you're trying to drive the clubhead into the ground. This should "pop" the ball out. It won't go very far, and you'll have little control over direction, but at least you'll be back on the fairway.
Don't use a death grip. You need some speed and acceleration to get through the rough. Excessively firm grip pressure will make this more difficult. However, you don't want your grip to be so light that the clubface will turn over through impact.
Don't be afraid to swing too hard. A slow swing will create a bad shot more often than an aggressive swing. All the best players try to accelerate the club when pitching from the rough.
If the lie is absolutely terrible, take the sand wedge and try to strike the ball with a square face, "hacking" down on top of it, almost as if you're trying to drive the clubhead into the ground. This should "pop" the ball out. It won't go very far, and you'll have little control over direction, but at least you'll be back on the fairway.

About The Author

Matthew DeBord has written about sports, cars, and wine since 1994 for a variety of publications. Formerly the golf columnist for the “Improper Hamptonian,” he has covered major championship tournaments and played some of the best courses in America. He graduated from Clemson University and has a master's degree from New York University.

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