Pitching From the Rough

By Jason Suedhof

IMG Leadbetter Certified Golf Instructor

Pitching out of the rough can be very intimidating and challenging. Lie, slope, distance and pin position are just a few of the difficult elements that come into play. However, some basic techniques grip pressure, having a sharp angle of attack, keeping your chest moving through the ball and simple fundamentals will give you an edge when attempting this shot.

First, using a bit more grip pressure when pitching out of the rough will allow your club to work through the heavy grass without the head twisting. The thick rough can catch the hosel and heal of your club, opening or closing the face, and causing your ball to go in either direction. On a scale of one to ten, we recommend that you hold the club at a five or six for a normal golf shot. For a deep rough shot, firm up that grip to a seven or eight.

Once you have a good grip, you can widen your stance slightly compared to the narrow stance typically used for a pitch shot. The clubface should be slightly open. Make sure your knees and hands are in a pre-impact position, meaning both are slightly forward of the ball. Your ball position should be a little right of center allowing you to have a sharp angle of attack. This means the club will fall down on the ball and as it makes contact, roll up on the face, keeping the grass from being between the ball and clubface.

Finally, the motion of the shot is crucial to a good execution. The weight of the club head will set the wrists. The swing is symmetrical, so the club is a mirror image of itself as it moves from back to front. It is easy to decelerate and land short of the target, so it is important to keep the chest moving through the ball. Remember that the body is our engine of the golf swing and the turning of the body controls distance.

Once you have hit the shot, you will see a real difference with the reaction of the ball on the green. Due to the lie, you will not pinch the ball between the face and ground and generate a lot of backspin. Your shot will release more, so be sure to land it on an intermediate target well short of the pin.

Applying these simple swing keys, while maintaining fundamentals, will give you the preparation and allow you to execute a great shot when pitching from the rough. Have fun and good luck!

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