Managing U.S. Open-style Rough

Posted by
April 1, 2024

I’ve noticed a trend through the years that when U.S. Open time rolls around, superintendents and green committees across the country often join in the fun and let the roughs at their courses grow a little longer and more lush.

Where you once could play simple chips from around the green, you now have to carefully search for your ball in grass so thick and tall you can barely see your shoes! Heavy rough around the green calls for you to use an arsenal of shots you might not be used to playing- maybe even shots you’ve only ever seen Tour professional hit.

When these conditions are mimicked at the courses you play in the region, it’s important that you be prepared for it.

I’d like to suggest a few shots that can help you better manage these seasonal conditions.


1)When the ball is fairly close to the green (only six to 12 inches outside of the deep rough line), sitting with a decent lie in grass that is tall but not too thick, try the “Drop Shot”. Play the ball well back in your stance (off of your back ankle). Take a narrow stance, leaning as far forward as good balance will allow. Maintain that forward lean to the top of your backswing and cock your wrists fully.

Drop the club into the back of the ball with a vertical, descending blow. The clubhead should slide between the blades of grass without cutting much grass, making reasonably clean, solid contact. There does not need to be much of a follow through (I told you this was a different skill set!). The ball will come out low and somewhat softly, so don’t try this if you have several feet of rough between your ball and your escape route.


2)  The “Chop Shot” can be used when your ball is more than a foot into a deep cut of rough, and there is significant grass for the ball to get through. You need more force in this instance, which requires a wider, more solid stance and a more powerful lob wedge swing. With the ball just inside your back ankle, lean slightly forward and keep your weight there throughout the swing.

The backswing is a little longer and the wrists should cock fully for plenty of power. The idea is to “chop” through the shot. Deliver a descending blow that cuts the grass behind the ball on the approach, trying to take a divot in front of it. You won’t actually take a divot, but you’ll generate enough power to get out of the rough. Accelerate the clubhead through the grass to a solid finish, at least two feet past impact. You won’t throw any grass out, but you’ll see a good cut in the rough where the clubhead plowed through it.


3)  If you find your ball so deep in the rough you fear you might not be able to escape in one shot, neither the Drop nor Chop shots will work. In this case I suggest you try the “Rip Shot”.

To “Rip” the ball out with your lob wedge, you use a basic philosophy: If you can get the club through and out of the grass, the ball will come too! With the ball positioned in the center of your stance, choke down so your lower hand is near the bottom of the grip. Stand a little closer than normal to the ball, and bend at your knees to reach it. Then make a big backswing (with your left arm at least getting to parallel) so you can rip it through impact.

With your clubface turned slightly open (the heel of the club should lead into the grass), you must accelerate down and through impact, making sure your club does not even come close to decelerating! By gripping down on the shaft even strong acceleration through impact won’t create tremendous club head speed, and the ball will come out fairly softly. As the ball and probably some grass start out of the rough, make sure you continue your arms and shoulders on through (well past) impact. Remember, you must rip the club through the grass to make sure the ball gets out too.

Before you play on a course with this kind of “tough” rough, a few practice swings with each of these shots will prove beneficial. You’ll find you at least get the ball out consistently, and the more your practice – the better you’ll become at controlling distance and direction on the shots.

Elevate your game today

Why Choose Pelz Golf?

Pelz Golf is world-renowned for revolutionizing golf through unparalleled instruction in short game techniques. Sessions fill up fast, so don't miss your chance to attend a 3-day, 2-day, or 1-day session to help you achieve a lifetime of LOWER SCORES.
ProgramLocationGolf ClubDate
Golf Instruction
Pro Shop
Phone Support
Email Support
Join Waitlist Please join the waitlist - up to half the time we are able to accommodate waitlist requests. Updates will be sent to the email provided below. Best to waitlist for each session you may be able to attend.