By Vikki Vanderpool, Swingpal instructor
The 2011 PGA Championship gets underway in Atlanta on Thursday, where among other challenges at the Atlanta Athletic Club the players in the field reportedly will be dealing with some challenging rough, so much so that the PGA actually cut the rough down at the start of the week out of fear that it was too difficult to play from.
The best players in the world will face that challenge this week and some of the ways in which they will deal with those situations can also benefit your game when you find yourself in deep, thick rough.
When playing out of thick rough there are a few important things to keep in mind.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you pick enough loft to get the ball out of the lie you’ve drawn and back into good position.
Typically, long grass will wrap around the hosel and twist the clubface closed at impact. The ball will immediately take off to the left and your follow through will be shortened as well.
If you have a terrible lie or even a marginal one, take your medicine, grab a lofted club, be smart and put the ball back in play. Trying to be too ambitious can lead to an unnecessary big number that can ruin a round.
Due to the fact that the grass will tend to grab the hosel, it’s also important to make a steeper swing when you’re in thick rough, or what is sometimes referred to as a “V” swing, which will create a sharper angle of attack to the ball. This will help you avoid hitting a lot of grass behind the ball and your club getting stuck before or at impact.
To create this steeper angle of attack, start with your weight more on the forward side of your stance at address. At the start of your takeaway, move the clubface up more abruptly rather than keeping the club low going back and continue to keep your weight on your front foot.
On the downswing, keep your trailing elbow close to your body and rotate through to the target. Use your body rotation and not just your hands to force the club through the rough.
Also, as mentioned earlier, the tendency is for the clubface to shut quickly when playing out of deep rough, but you have available options to keep that from happening.
It’s okay if you feel that you are gripping the club a bit tighter when you’re in a difficult, thick lie, as this will help in keeping the club from twisting in your hands at impact.
Another option is to rotate the clubface slightly open and regrip the club that way at address. This effectively will give you a head start of sorts if the clubface twists closed at impact.
Keep these thoughts in mind the next time you find yourself in deep, thick rough and you’ll be able to recover better.
Take a lesson with Vikki Vanderpool.