Best Way to Recover Shots from Thick Rough in Golf

Play this shot badly and you will probably have to add three or four strokes to your score, you may lose the ball in even deeper rough, and you can certainly end up losing your temper!

When you get to the ball, identify it and examine the lie carefully. Don’t anticipate miracles, but pick a highly realistic target for the shot, then choose your club conservatively.

Thick Rough in Golf Best Way to Recover Shots from Thick Rough in Golf

Your first priority when considering how to play a shot like this is to get the ball back on to the fairway, where your next shot will be much more straightforward. Under no circumstances should your next shot have to be played from the rough too, so you have to decide if you want to go for the green or if a simple shot that gets you sensibly back on the fairway is the better choice. My advice is that if you have any doubt whatsoever about your chances of reaching the green, let discretion be the better part of valour and play the ball safely back on to the fairway.

Your shot must make the ball rise sharply to prevent the long grass from impeding its flight too much. Therefore, choose a lofted club, either the No. 9 iron, the pitching wedge or the sand iron. The heavily-flanged sand iron is often best.


Place the hands further down the shaft than usual and with the right hand placed more to the left on top of the left thumb. This prevents the club face from closing too early, leaving too little loft on the club. Hold the club firmly with both hands.


With the ball well back in the stance, the feet should be wider apart than when playing the lofted club from a normal lie. Your weight should be well on the left foot and the hands in front of the ball.


Lean forwards, weight on the balls of the feet. The left foot should be withdrawn from the target line so that the stance is open. The lower body should be open also (pointing to the left of the target line).

Swing movement

The address position for this shot is similar to that for the normal sand shot, except for the position of the right hand on the club and the strength of grip. However, for this shot from the thick rough, the club is swung steeply with a strong arm move­ment up to a three-quarter backswing, then down to the ball with the weight on the left foot all the time. Make a great effort to ensure that the club keeps moving after impact.

Thick Rough in Golf 1 Best Way to Recover Shots from Thick Rough in Golf

Although this is a strong swing move­ment, keep in mind that precision and a correct strike are vital in order to fly the ball the required distance out of the rough. However strongly you swing the club, the swing must be smooth and rhythmical, otherwise too much power will be lost before the club head strikes the ball.

Take care that you don’t hit the ball so hard that it flies out of the rough, over the fairway, and into the rough on the other side.

It is not often that you see players practicing shots out of the rough. They should!

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