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Friday, May 29, 2015

Blair O'Neal from the Thick Greenside Rough

Yes, it's another Sexiest Shots in Golf video from Golf Digest. This time Blair is showing you how to get the ball up and down from thick greenside rough, which is something we all find ourselves in far too often.

Look, I know you've heard this before: Play this shot like a bunker shot. And Blair tells you how to play this as if it was a bunker shot:
  • Take a high-lofted wedge.
  • Open your stance slightly.
  • Open the club face.
  • Put the ball forward in your stance.
  • Hinge your wrists early.
  • Release the club head as you hit the ball.
But you need to make sure you understand that last one. If you're used to thinking like a chipper then you're used to trying to keep your hands slightly ahead of the club head. NOT HERE! You want to hit the ground a little behind the ball and you want the club head to start passing your hands just before you hit the ball. And when you fling the club head past your hands, that gives you more club head speed.

Let me repeat that: The bounce of the wedge should hit the ground just behind the ball and the shaft of the club should be vertical when it does. That means your hands are just behind the ball as well, and the club head will whip past your hands as it contacts the ball. I can't emphasize that enough. That lets you use the full loft of the club and makes the ball climb up quickly so it will come down softer, and the speed will give you a bit more spin to help it stop even faster.

Blair doesn't mention -- although it shows in the video -- that this isn't a full backswing shot. This is a pitch shot; your hands only go waist high or a bit higher on the backswing. However, your hands go almost to a full finish. That's because you want as much speed and height on the shot as possible, so you don't want to restrict your finish in any way.

One other quick note: This tip assumes that the ball is nestled down in the rough. If the ball is suspended in the grass above the ground, you'd need to do essentially the same things without the bounce of the club hitting the ground because then you'd go right underneath the ball. But in that case you'd have more options and might be able to choose a simpler shot. Blair is showing you a worst-case approach here.

Just make sure you practice it a few times before you try it on the course.