The US Open, one of the toughest tests in golf, is known for single lane fairways, lightning fast greens, and of course deep, thick rough. Wayward shots will have the best players in the world struggling to escape the infamous US Open rough, advancing their ball. What are the strategies needed to get out of the deep rough? Here are 4 steps you can use to escape US Open rough, should you find yourself there.
How To Handle US Open Rough
Be realistic in your expectations and take your medicine
The rough at US Open venues is designed to penalize wayward shots. Hitting it there can lead to bogey, or worse. Realize that getting on the green from the “weeds” is difficult for any skill level. The number one objective in this situation is getting the ball out of the rough and back into the fairway. Look for the shortest, easiest path back to the fairway and go from there. This keeps the problems from compounding any further.
Select the right club
Once you have decided which way you are going to go, make sure you select the right club. Use a club that’s going to get to the ball, launching it high enough to clear the rough quickly. I suggest nothing longer than a 7 iron and most often a wedge. Again, think of your recovery shot as a drop more than an opportunity to advance the ball. I often see someone attempting the hero shot with a 5 iron, only to have the ball never escape. Their next shot is from virtually the same situation.
Swing steep with big muscles
In long, thick rough, the club is easily grabbed and pulled by the grass before it gets to the ball. If the club does manage to get through, there is now a large amount of grass between clubhead and ball. The grass between the clubface and the ball makes clean contact impossible. You can handle this situation, though! Take the club back very steep and return to the ball on that same path. This swing path limits interaction with the grass as much as possible. Also, focus on swinging the club with the big muscles of your body, your legs and shoulders. Do as little as possible with your hands, as they are easily manipulated by contact with the grass.
Escape and move on
Once you have escaped the rough and found the fairway again, make sure to mentally “let it go,” focusing on the next shot. Accepting the penalty and not trying to over-recover with your next shot will lead to much better results in the long run. Just focus on hitting the shot you would have originally hit had your tee shot found the fairway.
Whew, You Escaped US Open Rough
While the primary goal is avoiding the rough and keeping the ball in the “short stuff”, when finding the rough, being realistic and accepting the consequence will help minimize the damage and lead to better results.