How To Hit Irons Out of the Rough (5 Tips)


Golf can be difficult!

First the golfer must learn to strike the ball solid and also control the start line and curve of the ball.  This is the foundation of any good golf swing.

But then there are other variables such as wind, rain, and of course the rough.

It is one thing to hit a shot out of the fairway, it can be a whole new adventure hitting irons out of the rough.

There are some simple adjustments that you can make to help you hit irons out of the rough.

How To Hit Irons Out of the Rough? 

Here are 5 tips and steps you can take to have success out of the rough:

  • Assess your lie
  • Create a plan
  • Control your low point
  • Adjust your ball position
  • Take more loft
Make sure you give yourself more room for the ball to stop on the green from the rough.

Tip #1: Assess your lie

The first key to when your ball ends up in the rough is to assess your lie.  Some lies in the rough might actually help you hit the ball further.  This is known as a “flyer lie.”  This is a result of a quality launch angle with a lower amount of spin, sometimes causing the ball to fly 5-15 yards further than you anticipate.  While this lie sounds amazing, if you do not properly assess it could lead to a disastrous score from flying the green and finding a hazard or a really difficult chip shot back onto the green.

Another scenario is a really thick lie, where you won’t be able to hit the ball as far.  Sometimes the rough can be so thick, you have to take more loft just to get the ball back in place.  While many courses keep their rough reasonable, there are some courses that have extra long or thick rough.  Reading this lie and ensuring you can get a solid club on the ball is important.

The third potential lie is where the ball might be sitting down some and for the most part, if you make solid contact, the ball will travel a similar distance.  The one downside is that the ball might not spin as much and be difficult to hold the green.  Taking into consideration where you want to land on the ball on the green will impact your club selection.

Related Post: How to irons irons off a tee

Tip #2: Create a plan

After you have assessed your line, think about a reasonable outcome with the lie that you have and create a plan.  Once again there are three potential impacts of the lie:

  • The ball might fly further.
  • You may have to simply try to advance the ball down the fairway.
  • The lie won’t significantly impact the shot, but will spin less, making it difficult to hold the green.

Depending on which of the three lies we have in play, complete your pre-shot routine and make a wise decision.  Some other considerations when selecting a club include the total distance left to the hole, the amount of bunkers around the green, and any other hazards or trees that you might have to contend with.

Related Post: How to hit your irons consistently

Tip #3: Control your low point

The key to any solid shot in golf, whether from the fairway or the rough, is the ability to control the low point of your swing.  Out of the rough it is that much more important as the grass sitting behind the ball can really slow the club down if you bottom out too early.

We want solid contact and to hit the ball clean. The best golfers are able to control their low point and hit the ball solid out of the rough.  

Here is a drill that you can use:

The Drill: The Low Point Control Dril

  • Take some yard paint and pant a 1-2 yard long line.
  • Setup with 55% of your weight on your front side.
  • Try to hit the target side of the line and see how many times out of 10 you can do this successfully!
  • Repeat this drill every day for a month, tracking your progress and your ability to do this successfully in trials of ten.
  • You may need to start with half swing and progress to full swings.

If you are struggling, put more weight forward and work on keep your head still to help control the low point in the swing.

Tip #4: Adjust your ball position

I prefer to move the ball slightly back in my stance to ensure I control the low point and hit the ball first.  Of course this will take some loft off the shot and cause the ball to come out lower, so the adjustment in clubs might be necessary as well.  

There are times, depending on the lie, where you might play the ball slightly forward and hit the shot as if you were hitting off a tee.  This would be needed if you were trying to get the ball over a tree or have a tight landing spot on the green and due to the reduced spin, you may need the height to hold the green.

Helpful Post: How to lower your score in golf

Tip #5: Take more loft

If you are a 10 or higher handicap, you might consider taking more loft and ensuring you are advancing the ball down the fairway.  The last thing you want is a devastating shot.  So if the lie is really difficult, take some extra loft and ensure you at least advance the ball.

Once again, this will depend on the lie, but when faced with a difficult lie where the rough is really thick or the ball is sitting down, the extra loft will be helpful.  A 3, 4 or 5 iron is difficult to hit out of thick, long rough, so make the adjustments as needed.

A great club out of the rough for mid to high handicap golfers is a hybrid.  These clubs are designed to get through the difficult rough and to launch the ball higher.

Make sure you practice out of different lies at the driving range.

BONUS TIP: Practice at the Driving Range

When most people head to the driving range, they find themselves hitting the majority of their shots off a mat or off of fairway like conditions.  Try to find a spot at the driving range that has some longer grass and see how the ball reacts out of the rough.

If you own a launch monitor, such as a Skytrak, take it with you to the range to see the difference in carry distance and the impact spin rate has on the distance.  You might be surprised to see the impact a lack of spin has on carry and total distance.

They key is to grow your feel and knowledge of what the ball will do out of the rough.  In the long run, the better you are out of the rough, the more it frees you up to hit driver more often.  It keeps you from having to hit a long iron or fairway wood off the tee in hopes of finding the fairway.

If you want to explore launch monitors, here are the top 3 I would recommend:

Use your Skytrak at home or at the range! Highly recommended! Complete game changer!

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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