What Golf Club To Use In Rough? (Complete Overview)


The rough on a golf course is one of the barriers that golfers must learn to deal with.

If you are someone that is going to let the driver fly and live with the results, getting good out of the rough is important.

Depending on the course you are playing, it might not be a big deal at all.  While other courses really let their rough grow long to serve as another test on the golf course.

One of the keys out of the rough is selecting the right golf club.  This will vary depending on what the lie looks like and what your situation is.

There are some clubs that are going to be better out of the rough than others.

What Golf Club To Use In Rough?

The golfer should select the club with the most loft that gives you a chance to make solid contact, yet hit the ball far enough to reach your target.  In some cases, if the rough is extremely long or thick, you might pick a club between your 8 iron and Sand Wedge to get the ball back in play from the fairway.

Some of the most difficult clubs to hit out of the rough are long irons.  Many golfers will struggle to hit a well stuck shot that will fly the required distance.  With the low loft clubs like a long iron, the golfer risks hitting a shot that doesn’t get in the air and only travels 10-30 yards, leaving the golfer with another rather difficult shot.

Longer Shots: What Golf Club To Use In Rough?

For those longer shots that you face throughout a round, we would highly recommend the hybrid style club.  These clubs are designed to get through the rough and allows the golfer to make solid contact, at a minimum sending the ball in the direction of the target close to a quality distance that will help you make your target score.

Another option are fairway woods such as a 5 wood or 7 wood. 

These clubs are also designed to get through the rough and hit the ball solidly.  Some golfers prefer the hybrids while others prefer the fairway wood.  You really can’t go wrong with either club.  With today’s technology in the game, hitting shots out of the longer rough shouldn’t be a major barrier.

Helpful Resource: 5 hybrid vs 5 iron: which one should I use?

Read your lie and pick a lofted club if needed.

Shorter Shots: What Golf Club To Use In Rough?

On the shorter approach shots, you might want to take an extra club, swing at about 80-90% and try landing the ball on the front of the green.  When hitting a shot out of the rough, the golfer doesn’t produce as much spin, which makes holding the green more difficult.

Helpful Resource: When to use a sand wedge


We recommend the 80-90% shot out of the rough because a solid and pure ball strike is essential. 

If the golfer is swinging to hard out of the rough, the really bad shot comes into play and the golfer might hit too far behind it and leave the ball in the rough.  We want to play a controlled game and ensure we hit the ball solid, especially out of the rough.

Helpful Resource: 7 wood vs 4 hybrid: which one should I use?

Flyer Lies: What Golf Club To Use in Rough?

Have you ever stood over a shot from 135 yards from the rough and fly your iron shot way over the green?  Chances are you had a “flyer lie.”  The flyer lie occurs in the rough when the ball is sitting somewhat up in the front.  Golfers actually hit this shot further as it is similar to hitting the ball off a tee. 

Oftentimes the launch angle will be higher with a lower spin rate, resulting in a shot that flies too far.

The key here is to learn to read your lies and understand how the ball might respond.  Closely ready the lie and then decide what shot you are going to hit.  If you have a flyer lie, you will want to consider an 80% swing or one less club.  Once again, it is important to strike the ball solid as the swing might have to change some so that you don’t catch the ball too high on the clubface and swing underneath, resulting in a shot that is too high and too short.

Helpful Resource: What is the most versatile golf club?

Course Management: What Golf Club To Use in Rough?

Ultimately, the golfer must understand the difficulty of the rough that day and what he or she is trying to accomplish that round.  Too often, golfers just find their yardage and select their normal club without giving any thought to how the lie might impact the shot.

This becomes very detrimental when playing from the rough with a longer iron.  Sometimes the golfer might be better off hitting the mid or short iron and advancing the ball down the fairway to leave a shorter wedge into the green.

This becomes extra important on the par 5s. 

Helpful Resource: How to score better on par 5s

Many golfers become consumed with trying to reach the green in two on a par 5 and automatically pull the 3 wood.  Instead, the golfer should consider their total yardage left, what club they can confidently get solidly on the ball and then advance the ball down the fairway.  This will often leave a rather manageable wedge shot and a true birdie opportunity.

One thing to consider is that hitting a shot from 110 yards from the rough is easier than hitting a 150 yard shot from the fairway.  This is an important stat and the analytics show the golfer is better off hitting the 110 yard from the rough.  What this means for the average golfer is to pull the driver on most par 4s and par 5s even if there is thicker rough.  The average golfer from 150 yards even from the fairway is going to struggle to hit the green.  The closer your 2nd shot to the hole, the better chance of making at least a par.

The analytics have made it rather clear that distance is vital in today’s game.  The logic is simple to follow:  the further you can hit a driver, the closer the approach shot, the closer the approach shot, the better the average is in proximity to the pin.  The closer your proximity to the pin results in more putts made.

Consider the stats below from the PGA Tour:

1 Putt Percentage from Distance Below

Less than 3′4′5′6′7′8′20′
99.40%92%80.80%70.30%60.90%51.80%12%

Conclusion: Work on adding speed to your swing.  It will leave you with shorter shots and give you more ability to hit quality shots from the rough when faced with it.

Tips for Hitting From The Rough

Once you have selected the right club, the next step is ensuring you are prepared for this shot.

Here are some quick tips from the rough:

  1. Play the ball slightly further back in your stance.
  2. If you are questioning your ability to hit the ball solid, take more loft.
  3. Train for low point control in your golf swing
  4. Train for more speed in your golf swing

Tips 1 and 2 are pretty simple to follow.  Tips 3 and 4 are more about drills you can implement to make hitting out of the rough easier over time.

Drill: Low Point Control

  • Take some yard paint and paint 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 to 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 keeping your head still to help control the low point in the swing.

Drill: Train for Speed

The analytics above make it very clear that extra distance and speed is vital to overall game improvement.  The more speed you have, the easier it is to hit it out of the rough because you can take a more lofted club.  That’s why golfers like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are so good even out of the thickest rough.  They have speed and are strong.

Let’s face it, we all want to hit the ball further and can all use some help out of the rough!

You can train for speed and get some amazing results with SuperSpeed Golf.  It worked for me and I believe it can work for many (especially if you make a commitment and actually use it)

I believe many used to believe, well this is just how fast I can swing.  

Recent training tools have started to change many minds.  We have seen many of the professional golfers get longer and longer with their tee shots as a result of additional swing speed.  You will find many touring pros using the SuperSpeed System, which I highly recommend.

SuperSpeed Golf is one option to increase your swing speed through a science based overspeed training approach.  In simple terms, you train by swinging a lighter club (20%) faster than you swing your driver.  Over time, by training at a higher speed, your mind and body feel safe to swing that fast with your normal driver, resulting in an increase in driver swing speed.

The SuperSpeed System provides 3 different weighted sticks and takes the golfer through a training protocol every other day for about 15 minutes.  The golfer can expect to see a 5-8% increase in swing speed, resulting in 20-30 yards for most golfers.  The great news is that the 5-8% can be expected as early as the first training session.  The additional speed will become more permanent after about 30-60 days of training.

My own experience has been an increase of 7-10 miles per hour on average from between 98-101 all the way up to 106-109.  My goal is to hit the PGA Tour average of 113 mph in the coming months.  I will continue to train every other day and watch in amazement as I am hitting drivers longer now than ever before!

Phil Mickelson has been known to increase his swing speed in the past year or so and is close to 120 miles per hour in his swing speed.  There are potential results for golfers of all ability levels and age!  

Check the current price on SuperSpeed Golf System, here!

Original Swing SpeedAfter 4-6 WeeksNew Carry DistanceTotal Distance
95102245265
100108259279
105113271291
110118283303
Courses all over the world will have different types of grass for their rough.

Final Thoughts

The first key is to hit practice shots out of the rough.  Find a driving range that has some rough you can practice out of and see how the ball responds.  Try out your different clubs and see what provides you with the best option for the variety of shots you might face.

Second, make sure to use the low point control drill.  There is nothing worse than hitting 2 inches behind a shot in the rough. 

Finally, get to work on training to add more speed.  Your future self will thank you for starting soon!

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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