Pelz Corner: Managing U.S. Open Rough

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 rough at their courses grow a little longer and lusher.

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

Here are three options to consider when these conditions are mimicked at your next course. Each will help you at least get the ball out consistently, and the more you practice, the better you’ll become at controlling distance on the shots.

The Drop Shot

When the ball is fairly close to the green (only six to 12 inches outside of the deep rough line), siting 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 the back ankle). Take a narrow stance, learning as far forward as good balance will allow. Maintain that forward learn 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. 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.

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