The #1 Rule Of Trouble Is Don't Get Into Anymore - Tom Watson

Dealing With Rough

Rough is common on almost every course especially on links courses with their coarse grasses and heathers. Dealing with it is largely a matter of common sense. For example, many players attempt to recover from rough by simply playing on regardless. While this is appropriate under certain circumstances, it is usually better to accept that a stroke has been lost and simply play the ball back onto the fairway. The main reason for this is that grass tends to close the clubface as it passes through it thus the likelihood of yet another wayward shot.

Another consideration when deciding between a safety or recovery shot is the lie if the grass. If   the lie is against the direction of flight then the safety shot is recommended. If it lies in the same direction then the recovery shot may be advisable. In this situation, the ball can be played as if playing from a bunker - open stance with ball slightly forward.

Club selection is also important. The longer the grass or deeper the ball is buried, the more lofted the club should be. The idea is to get air and raise the ball out of trouble.


No matter how flat a course first appears, you'll eventually end up having to hit the ball off a slope. It may be an uphill, downhill or side hill lie, and any one of them will frustrate the player who doesn't know how to play them or understand their effects on ball flight.

The key to hitting the ball in each of these circumstances is adjusting your address position so you make contact at the bottom of the swing arc. Couple that with an understanding of how the ball will bend as a result of these adjustments and you can turn a tough situation to your advantage.




To get into the proper address position to hit off either an uphill or downhill lie, simply set the line of your hips and shoulders parallel to the slope you're on. This means adjusting your balance so that most of your weight is on the lower foot. For a right-handed player that's the right foot for an uphill lie, the left foot for a downhill lie. Ball position also is important, and you should play it toward the higher foot -- the left foot for an uphill lie, the right foot for a downhill lie.

To prevent a fat or topped shot, swing the club along the line of the slope. Starting with the hips and shoulders set parallel to this line at address makes this easier.

The steeper the slope, the greater the tendency to lose your balance, so take a few practice swings. You may decide that making a three-quarter swing of the arms, keeping the lower body quiet, will increase your chances of good contact.

The lie and your address position influence the shape of the resulting shot. Your setup for an uphill lie naturally adds loft to the clubface, while the angle of the slope also promotes a higher shot. So take a less-lofted club or two, depending on the severity of the hill.

The opposite is true for a downhill lie: Swinging down along the slope delofts the clubface, while the angle of the slope creates a lower shot. Go down a club or two.




From a side hill lie, you must alter the swing plane by changing your posture. The lie helps you do this. A ball below your feet forces you to stand closer to it and bend more at the waist, creating a more upright swing plane. A ball above the feet forces you to stand farther away and more erect, encouraging a flatter swing.




In addition to altering the swing plane, side hill lies also affect the shape of the shot. A ball below the feet forces a very straight takeaway with the arms, resulting in an out-to-in approach path and a left-to-right flight pattern. Compensate by aiming a little left, allowing for the fade. 

A ball above the feet calls for a great deal of body turn and a flat arm and shoulder plane, resulting in a right-to-left flight. Aim a little right to allow for the draw.