As is tradition, U.S. Open rough is the longest and thickest the players see all year. At Porzak Golf, we teach our players to read their lie and understand what is given to them based upon the length of grass and direction of the grain. According to their assessment they then choose from a variety of shots they have in their arsenal. At the U.S. Open you can throw that out the door. With the length of grass around the greens and how far the ball sits down, friction between the clubface and the ball is unavoidable , therefore, you only have one option.
The option is to play it like a bunker shot. We always help our players understand that with bunker shots you're never making actual contact with the ball. You are blasting the sand behind the ball with force which propels the ball out onto the green. With no access to the back of the ball, the same mentality needs to take place when confronted with deep rough around the greens.
To hit this shot correctly, here are two set up and two swing tips.
1.) Ball position: inside your front foot on the heel... This allows the player to hit behind the ball and promotes a higher softer flight that can hold the green with as much control as possible, which is crucial on these undulated and speedy greens.
2.) Face angle: The face of the club should be open to promote control and a soft landing. The blades of grass in between the club's grooves and the ball will take off spin, therefore, the only way to stop the ball is a higher/softer flight that will not land on the green with much pace.
1.) Angle of attack: A steeper more vertical angle of attack into the golf ball will minimize the amount of grass we hit. A thought that we have had a lot of success with many of our players in deep rough and in the bunkers is to feel the hands and club swing more up the elevator and not the escalator. The escalator gradually moves upward, whereas the elevator moves directly up.
(Tip: having a bit more weight on your front foot will promote this motion)
2.) Speed: The worst thing that can happen is leaving yourself the same shot you previously had. If speed or force is not applied there is a great chance the ball will not go anywhere.
*Take note of the videos below. We are very proud of our student, Mark Anguiano, a professional based in Southern California. Mark qualified for the U.S. Open here at Oakmont, and these videos show him preparing for the difficult greenside rough prior to the tournament. Don't let his club stopping after impact fool you. I can assure you he is not quitting on the shot, but the rough is equivalent to hitting into an impact bag, almost stopping the face completely at impact.
We wish all the best to Mark this week and each of you when confronting these difficult shots! If you would like to keep in touch with Mark's game follow him on Twitter @markanguiano29 or follow Adam Porzak @adam_porzak