While playing golf in the rough is not a situation any golfer wants to find themselves in, it is a key skill to improve your game.
However, playing golf in the rough is not a catch-all term and you may find yourself in several different positions in the rough across a round.
You may be 200+ yards away from the green, with trees and other hazards in your way.
You could find your ball well off course in very deep and thick rough.
Or you might be close to the green and looking to roll your ball close to the hole.
So in this article, we will look at 4 common scenarios and assess what the best club for hitting out of the rough is when you find your ball in that position.
When considering the best club to hit in the rough, factors like the lie of the ball or the rough’s thickness are also important to judge.
So with all that in mind let’s get started!
The Best club to hit in the rough: 4 Scenarios
Scenario 1: Long approach shot
It can feel very demoralizing when you see your tee shot fly into the rough on a par 5, potentially turning a good birdie or par opportunity into a bogey or worse!
Perhaps this is even worse on a par 4 when a long approach shot from the rough makes a bogey or worse feel certain.
But selecting the best club to hit out the rough for this scenario can get your hole back on track!
Fortunately, club designers came up with the perfect club; a hybrid! A hybrid club combines the forgiveness of an iron with the distance of a wood.
This, therefore, makes it the best club to use out of the rough when faced with a long approach shot.
The thick grass in the rough has the effect of delofting the club face as it grips the clubhead at the bottom of a swing, which can make long irons unsuitable for playing in the rough, especially when the ball has a bad lie.
To counter this, the chunkier head of a hybrid cuts through the grass, which helps to reduce the gripping effect in the rough.
This effect of a hybrid also helps to reduce the amount of grass between the ball and the clubface at impact, helping to produce a cleaner strike.
As we all know, cleaner ball striking leads to longer, more accurate shots.
Additionally, the chunkier clubhead on a hybrid helps generate more distance, making them ideal when playing long approach shots
So next time you find yourself with a long approach shot out of the rough, the best club to select is a hybrid club!
Scenario 2: Shorter approach shot
As we saw above, the thick, grippy grass in the rough has the effect of delofting the clubface at impact, producing a shallower, flatter ball flight.
If your shot fails to gain enough height at impact, the ball can get caught in the long grass. This can end the ball’s flight before it clears the grass, causing it to land very close to where it started, a shot sometimes called a duffed shot.
In order to avert this, gaining enough loft on a shot out of the rough is key!
So the best club to use when playing out of the rough, when facing a shorter approach shot is a more lofted iron. This generally refers to 7-9 irons.
For example, if your ball is in the rough and your shot is at a distance where you would usually hit a 6-iron, think about selecting a 7 or 8-iron.
This may mean you have to aim slightly short of the green, but playing a chip shot beside the green is better than still being stuck in the rough over 100 yards away from the pin!
Getting a more lofted ball flight out of the rough is also helpful for another reason.
Often when your ball flies into the rough, your line to the green will be blocked by other hazards like trees, bunkers, and if you’re particularly unlucky, water!
A more lofted ball flight gained by using a lofted iron will help ensure your ball flies over these hazards and not straight into them.
So when playing a shorter approach shot in the rough, in order to avoid duffed shots and hazards, the best club to select is a more lofted iron!
Scenario 3: Playing out of deep rough
Not every course you’ll play on has the horror of thick, shin-high rough.
Often this type of rough is found on heathland or links courses but it is a hazard that is very tricky to play out of.
The thick rough is extremely grippy and can feel like it’s grabbing your club, producing a pronounced de-lofted clubface at impact.
The height of the rough also makes it harder to clear the long grass.
So what’s the best club to hit out of the rough in this tricky scenario?
It is likely that only a wedge will give the loft necessary to get the ball clear of thick, shin-high rough.
As a wedge doesn’t achieve much distance, especially when playing out of thick rough, it is likely you may have to take your medicine.
Some golfers also call it leaving your ego in the clubhouse but this means focusing on getting the ball on the fairway via the shortest route possible and just getting back in play.
Taking the risky option and aiming at the green when you are in the longest rough could leave your ball in a worse position than you found it in.
If you are on the course and you find yourself in the nightmarish, shin-high rough, you should identify the shortest route back to the fairway, aim that way and remember the best club to use out of the rough here is a wedge.
Scenario 4: Playing in the rough around the green
It’s a common scenario for most golfers, your approach shot has gone slightly off course and your ball is in the rough around the green.
But what’s the best club to use out of the rough in this scenario?
The answer to that and the ideal shot to hit depends on your ball’s positioning relative to the green and its lie in the rough.
So what if your ball has a good lie (more than half the ball is sitting above the grass) and you are on the long side of the green i.e. the majority of the green lies between you and the hole?
A bump and run in this scenario will provide you with the control you need to roll the ball closer to the hole.
Using a pitching wedge or short iron will allow the ball to release once it bounces and the natural forward spin generated when playing from the rough will allow the ball to roll toward the hole.
But what should you do if your ball is in a bad lie and you are on the short side of the green i.e. there is very little green between your ball and the hole?
In this scenario, you need to get plenty of loft on the ball to get it out of the long grass and stop it quickly on the green.
This means the best club to use out of rough here is a wedge and play a lob shot!
Using a wedge for a lob shot will help to dig the ball out of the rough, and the higher ball flight will help to stop the ball faster when being on the short side of the green gives you very little room between the ball and the hole.
If you want some pointers on how to play a lob shot, check out the YouTube video linked here!
Remember, before you decide what the best club to use is and what shot to play when playing from the rough around the green, assess the lie of your ball and whether you are on the short or long side of the green.
So that’s our guide on what the best club to use is when playing in the rough in 4 common scenarios you may find yourself in on the course.
But don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t work out every time, playing from the rough can be very tricky to master, even for experienced golfers. Thick grass and bad lies are any golfer’s nightmare.
If playing golf in the rough is a problem in your game check out the article below for 5 quick tips to help improve your game and remember to think carefully about your club selection.