How to Hit from the Rough

By Steve Silverman

Golf Course overview
Hitting the golf ball out of the rough is a challenge that all golfers face. Even the best golfers in the world can't hit the fairway on every hole. Your ability to play the ball confidently from the tall grass will determine in large part whether you can put a respectable score on the card or whether your game falls apart when you are faced with trouble.


Difficulty: Moderate
  1. Play the ball in the middle of your stance. You want the ball to be midway between your front and back foot. Take an athletic position as you stand over the ball. Your knees need to be bent or flexed if you are going to transfer your weight properly in order to get your club head through the ball.
  2. Check your distance to the green or the spot on the fairway at which you are aiming. If you are 150 yards away and you normally use a 7-iron from that distance, add at least one club length so that you are hitting with a 6-iron (if you have that club) or a 5-iron.

    If you want to have stopping action when the ball hits, use a shorter club (a 5-iron instead of your usual 4-iron) to get more backspin.

    If the ball is deep down, pull out your pitching wedge. The idea is to take a normal swing and not to try to kill it when you are in the rough.
  3. Stand about two or three inches closer to the ball than you normally do. You want to create a more vertical swing plane because if you attempt to sweep the ball out the grass, your club face will get caught up in the rough. Come down on the ball with speed and follow through.
  4. Open your club face as you prepare to start your swing. That means that instead of having the club face aimed at the target, you will be aiming to the right (right-handed golfers). Turn the head of the club about five degrees to the right. This is because the blades of grass that your club will encounter will tend to close the club face when it makes contact with the ball. Opening your club face compensates for this.
  5. Grip the club a bit tighter than normal. The high grass tends to slow down the club face as it gets to the ball and that slowing or stopping action will be felt in your hands. Add pressure to your grip. Hold on to the club at about a "6" on a 1-to-10 scale. Normally, you should grip the club at about a "5."
  6. Bring the club back as you normally do, but try to keep most of your weight on your front foot. This will help you get the club head through the ball on impact and not get caught up in the grass. Exaggerate your shot by emphasizing your right hand as you make impact. The right hand will make sure your club head gets through the ball and does not get stuck in the rough.

Tips & Warnings

  • Practice your swing from the rough when you get the chance. This is difficult to do when you are at most practice ranges, but if you get to your golf course early you can hit from the tall grass surrounding the holes. This is vital in order to get used to the feeling of your club getting through the rough.

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.