Chipping and Pitching From The Rough | Swing Surgeon - Don Trahan Peak Performance Golf Swing

Chipping and Pitching From The Rough

Sat, 10/26/2013 - 12:00 -- Don Trahan

Your short game is one of the biggest reasons why you either shoot high scores or low scores. Being able to get up and down from any type of lie will help you cut strokes in a big way. If you have trouble chipping and pitching the ball from the rough, you know firsthand the damage a lousy short game can have on your scorecard.

Mike S. is one Surgite who just can't seem to gain any consistency around the green. He does okay when chipping and pitching from the short grass, but whenever he has to play a short shot from the rough, there's no telling where the ball will end up. So, today I'm going to give some pointers on how you can become a better player out of the rough, especially around the green.

Don,

Hello from a former student of your class in Florida! Since I took that class my ball striking has gotten much better and my score has dropped to a consistent low 90s, high 80s which is exciting. I'm still struggling with consistency in direction which gets me into trouble sometimes but that's not the focus of this email. What really gets me into trouble and is the cause of at least 2-3 strokes a round is my chipping from the rough (i.e. Bermuda grass).

If the ball is lying in the first cut or the fairway or when I'm practicing from my astro-turf matt, I don't have any problems getting the ball to go where I'm aiming. However, when I'm trying to chip from the rough, 90% of the time it's a 45 degree shank off to the right (I am right handed). I've tried opening my stance, closing my stance, swinging the club like a putter, slicing it across the ball, various ideas on wrist angle, various ball placements in stance, chopping at it, and swinging through it. I just can't seem to get any decent results. I have the Kenny Knox short game video and it has helped somewhat but I must be missing some fundamentals. It's very frustrating and I feel it's the biggest issue right now that's keeping me from shooting in the 80's consistently instead of just occasionally. What should I be doing differently when chipping from the rough rather than from a nice lie in the fairway or 1st cut?

Mike S.

My best suggestion to Mike would be to get back to the basics. From reading his submission, you can see that he's tried just about everything. But that might be the problem. Instead of working on one thing and trying to improve that way, he's trying to do too much.

One thing that all golfers have to remember is that the ball will sink down into the rough when it lands there, so you've got to do two important things. The first thing you have to do is increase your grip pressure. You will also have to come down more steeply on the ball. If your grip is too loose, the rough will grab the clubface and twist it and send the ball any which way. Firm up and do anything you can to not let the club twist.

Good luck and keep it vertical!

The Surge

If you can't view the YouTube video above try CLICKING HERE. You must allow popups from this site for the link to work.

Comments

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

Surge,
Thanks for confirming most of what I learned yesterday. A drier day here but with winds gusting to 135kph around 84mph, not a good day for golf. So I had a couple of intensive chipping sessions and short pitching too.
Played the balls from hardpan, fringe lenth grass through to lush rough on the front 'chipping area', mainly using LW-SW-9-8-7-6irons and a 'chipper' [bought many years ago]. I started out with 2 x PW's of different brands against one another. Recently my normal PW was performing very well. Imagine my surprise when the alternate one beat it all ends up, for consistent length and accuracy. The first batch of 8 balls were not too bad. Noted something off the hardpan [which I had never practiced before and made a slight change to the swing. WOW! Repeated the same swing and was left smiling after the batch of balls had been despatched. Good consistent distance and accuracy. Next put all 8balls in a line and made 8 strokes without looking at where they finished up. Result? A nice tight group. More smiles. So much so that in the post lunch session I swapped the normal clubs for the alternates of the same numbers as shown earlier. Results were excellent from all lies. The 'chipper' which except for one outing some weeks ago, where it had performed poorly [In hindsight it was me who performed poorly : - [ ,it had been banished from the bag. On yesterdays showing alone, it has replaced the LW in my bag. It used to be very useful on much longer chips.
My chipping stance was alternated between a normal PPGS set up and my present more un-orthodox putting set up. The results will be confirmed on our next outing to the hallowed turf [or not].
On the deep rough comments today by Surge, I was happy to hear his advice. It will be followed on our next outing. A couple of shots from lush deep rough our last time out gave 50-50 results. The better ones were downward blows, but not downward enough to be good ones.
Labour Weekend Bank Holiday long weekend here in godzone New Zealand.
Known for its un-reliable weather as Summer approaches. Wind easing a bit so another session in prospect. Hahaha! As I wrote that, there was another strong gust hahaha. Sun is out, so fingers crossed, I will be practicing todays information shortly ; - ) Keep on hitting them consistently longer and straighter where ever you are. DH "JUST DO IT RIGHT!"

NeilofOZ's picture

Submitted by NeilofOZ on

Interesting the comment that Surge made regarding "punching", which is exactly
what I do when chipping around the greens, with reasonable accuracy. What I think Mike is doing when chipping out of the rough, is taking a slightly bigger
swing to compensate for the grass grabbing the club, but not following through. My number one rule in chipping is accelleration through the ball, achieved by a limited backswing and extended forward swing. If you have a firm grip on the club ( which I do ) then it's possible that his club face is still open at impact, which is what Surge was alluding to.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Neil,
Acceleration is indeed the key for me too. I need to be unafraid of going long. Falling short is much more common than going long, especially out of thick rough. As Surge said, firm grip and be aggressive.

For normal chipping green side I will most often use my 9 iron. Because I use it most I have really learned how far it will roll out and my chipping has really improved. Some are really good with a lofted wedge like a 56-60+* just off the green. Many however come up short. I will rarely use more than the 41* of my 9 iron. It is enough to get it on the green and rolling like a putt. I am surprised if I don't chip in at least once every other round. Of course these are on shots normally out of less than thick rough and when I can get it to land on the green or in the first cut by the green. I read them just like a putt when setting up.

I have to say the best 30 yards and in chipping advice I got a few months ago was from (if memory serves me right) fellow Surgite Dave Everitte who directed us to this tip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F0Kpy6yoUc

It has simplified and raised my consistency a lot when chipping.

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

Robert,
Many thanks to you [and fellow Surgite Dave Everitte] for the link to the video you posted above. Co-incidence, this is exactly what I have been doing for the past few weeks : - ) and I can confirm that it is deadly accurate and repetitively so. Yesterday with the wind still blowing very strongly and gusting stronger, I had a chipping session. It was spiced up by using two different brands of ball against each other. Using 3 of each brand and a yellow ball as the target ball, which was chipped first. Then I dropped all six balls and played them from the lies they finished up in.
What became apparent was, even when moving up from the PW to 8iron, 6iron and finally 5iron, that one brand of ball was delivering very much better results. Remembering this was playing them from different lies at random, yet they were always in a much tighter group than my usual brand of ball delivers.Hmmm! The ball was tried after my golf friend in the South Island said he was using them to good effect. In UK I used to play the same ball and liked them. So they will be getting a run out very soon, weather permitting.
The last time out I used the chipping method swing and stance from the fringe just off the green on a couple of longish ones and was suitably impressed with the results. Stretching the envelope a bit, but if it works consistently why not? Hahaha!
Hope that you are getting plenty of play and practice in. Keep on consistently chipping them straight in, in Vegas, and thanks again for the video link, which I will keep handy. DH

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

DH, glad to hear of your battle of the balls. Only thing missing was the climatic announcement of which brand won for you. Do tell us! our weather is finally cooling off and the ball is not flying as far. i may soon switch to a softer ball. what was the one we spoke of last year, the Wilson 50? Any how we'd love to hear about the winner for you.
Keep your hat on tight in the wind and play on:)

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

Hi Robert,
(as the sun breaks through here early evening ; - ) Fingers, eyes and everything else crossed for the morrow.
The ball I had been playing was the Srixon 'Soft Feel', which has been giving me the best all round performance. My Oppo and ex-army boss in Christchurch, mentioned he was on his way to buy some Titleist So-Lo balls which he likes very much for the same reason I liked the Srixons [the Soft Feel and the AD333's before them],previously. So I dug out some So-Lo's and tested them so far on chipping and some very short pitches[due to a restricted distance factor,ie, a small area to practice in]. The Titleist So-lo's were by far the more consistent ball when I played them against both the Soft Feel and Titleist NXT Tour. Tried the latter today. Of the three types the So-Lo's were consistently accurate in both distance and dispersion was practically zero! On one set of chips aimed at a 4" flat fronted wooden fence post, all 3 So-Lo's hit it and stopped within 3" of the post. On another set of chips to the trunk of a young, small Fejoa tree about 1" wide from 15yards 2 out of three hit the trunk and were resting one against the tree and the other ball resting on the first ball. The 3rd ball hit a lumpier part of the 'range', but still finished in tap in distance. So it will be interesting to see how they perform off the tee,fairway etc. Will definitely let you know Robert.
Funny you mentioned keeping my hat on tight.Went the local market yesterday morning and was glad I had changed head gear from the normal one. It would probably have been half way to Vegas by now ; - )
hahaha. Keep on chipping them in : - ) DH

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

Robert,
Got out yesterday in a stiff breeze with my mix of clubs and 2 types of balls. The So-Lo's were excellent, but didn't like their brand mate, the Titleist NXT Tour. Told my golf mate by email that I liked the So-Lo's and he responded that they had 'run out' of the yellow ones and in the end he bought Wilson Duo's which he has had 9holes with only [due to high wind and 3 trees falling that they actually saw fall and another 3or so had fallen elsewhere on the course ].
It was a reasonable round yesterday with some good, some very good and some not so good holes. Accuracy wise with everything from the fairway woods down was good. Later in the round the 11*deg driver started to go right. Later I realized that ONE thing was missing from my swing [unprintable comment]! My secondary spinal tilt was missing!!!!!! Now try 'skipping a rock' without it!!!!!! That would leave me [I think] more over the ball than behind it at impact and beyond. So can't wait to see.
Wilson 50's? I have just checked I have half a dozen Wilson Duo's still in their boxes and half a dozen which have previously had an outing. Will try them again too.
From a windy NZ Good luck with your Wilson 50's DH champing at the bit to get out again ; - )

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Thanks for sharing which ball it is DH. I have used that ball a few times and yes, liked it too. That may be just the right choice for the coming cooler weather here. I will see if i can find it for a reasonable deal $$:) May get the Wilson 50's if the So-Lo's are not priced "low" enough. Pun intended!

shortgamewizard's picture

Submitted by shortgamewizard on

I have found the Bridgestone Treo Soft to be an excellent cold weather ball. I have bought 2 dozen for $30 at Dick's Sporting Goods when they are on sale.

NeilofOZ's picture

Submitted by NeilofOZ on

Robert, just watched your video and apart from the open stance, the shot is pretty much a standard restricted swing delivering the necessary power.
My chipping is a lot different in that I punch the ball, similar to a boxer hitting a punching bag, I have the open stance, ball on the back foot, 4/5 firm wrists, use a gap wedge which is de-lofted so my hands are well in front of the ball. The club is taken back square to the aiming line and maintained on the follow through, this action necessitates a limited back swing, hence the need for the extended follow through and a punching action. Some people say I scoop the ball, but hey it works for me.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Neil, that your chipping style works for you is all that matters. I used to have a lot of forward lean and more loft. The over all 'less is more' is better in my case. My 9 iron with very little lean is likely like someone else's gap wedge with hands well forward. This approach utilizes the bounce more yet not opening the face to do so. It feels like fewer moving parts (firm wrists, no hinging) and very much a one piece feel. The first week I adapted it I had two chip ins. A month ago I had three holes in a row with chip ins. Two were for birdies and the other to save par. Direction and distance have generally improved. Now if I can get the other aspects of my game together all on the same days.......

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

Hi Robert,

I'm glad that this method is still working for you. It has been a real game changer for me this year. The setup and very simple motion, without intentional wrist action, makes for consistent and clean contact with the ball and that makes distance and directional control a lot easier.

This is also a very versatile method. It has become my go to shot for all trouble shots from bad lies and any time that a low straight shot out of trouble is required. If a low running fade or draw is required I'll use anything up to a 4 hybrid and open or close the clubface at address to work the ball. This method makes it possible to score from all kinds of awkward places.

Dave Everitt

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Yes, thanks again Dave. I am normally cautious about trying anything that is potentially outside the 5 rules of the PPGS. In some ways I think Gary Pines chipping method is in harmony with Surges ideas of fewer angles and no wrist hinge along with the on on and on approach. I agree it is versatile and I have had some success using it with other clubs and from outside 30 yards. As you can see above from my comment to Neil, I have (as of late) found that I use my 9 iron from off the green to chip most often. Of course there are always exceptions such as over tall bunkers and when we are short sided. But especially from the few yards off to 25-20 yard range I find that using the same club almost every time has upped my consistency. I do still use the full range of wedges. Pw, gap. 53, 56 and 60. However given the option I reach for the 9 from closer in. Thanks again for sharing that video earlier. It has improved my chipping very much. Chipping it close or in has improved my putting stats too:)

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

There's Bermuda rough and then there's Bermuda ROUGH and there is very little similarity between the two.

In the latter even the best players can only hope to cut their losses and try to stay out of it next time.

NeilofOZ's picture

Submitted by NeilofOZ on

Steve, you make it sound like a Briar Patch, I agree best not to be there.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

The winning double low ball scores in our Saturday game at this time of year tell it all (and are too consistent and too predictable to be coincidence).

The rough is tough at our course year round but starting in the early fall, when the grass starts becoming course, distance control on the seemingly easiest chips becomes impossible.

Winning team double low ball scores throughout the summer were from -6 to -9 per nine holes. Winning team double low ball scores the last 5 weeks have been from -1 to -3 (and it's the same every year).

Keep in mind that those scores are the best two balls on a hole and are largely dependent on the best two players on each team. The A player is a better than scratch player on each team and the B player is close to scratch.

shortgamewizard's picture

Submitted by shortgamewizard on

Hi Steve,

Here in the desert the bermuda dries out and produces hard woody like stems with the leafy part of the grass on top. Depending on how often the rough is mowed there are two types of rough conditions to have to deal with. If the rough is mowed and 2" or under, there is less of the woody stem to deal with. When mowed higher than the 2" there is a lot of the woody stem to deal with.

The latter mowing has the leafy top looking thick but the ball easily drops to the ground. Gouging the ball out from these lies results in low screamers if a lot of the stems get between the ball and the face, or really dead short shots if the ball sits up higher and the leafy part gets between the ball and the face.

The lower cut of rough tends to be more consistent in how the ball comes out. My question to you is in the higher humidity of the South does the stems of the Bermuda stay softer? Even though it might be a bear to try to get out of?

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

Just from the courses I have played I would say that "typical" around here is less than 2 inch rough and just thin enough that the ball usually falls down close to the ground but sometimes not all of the way to the ground, and only occasionally sits on near the top of the grass. The grass is soft enough for the grain to not be a huge factor for better players. Not ideal to be in but not terrible either.

The course where I play the most is not typical for around here. The grass is longer than 2 inches and is much thicker so the ball would never fall down through it close to the ground. Usually settles in about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch from the top of the grass which leaves it over an inch off of the ground. Success rates out of it are almost entirely dependent on whether the shot is against the grain or with the grain. Anything other than a thin shot against the grain will catch the leading edge of the club and suck it down under the ball. Options for short game shots against the grain are reduced to less lofted clubs and on many short sided shots getting it close is simply not a consistent option. Rather than getting cute and hitting the shot high on the club face the better option is to get it on the green with a less lofted club, even though it will cost a stroke (one stroke is better than two).

In the fall when the grass becomes harder any distance control becomes much tougher. Especially for people like me that like to use the bounce and have a very shallow angle of attack. I have to totally change my approach to the short game every fall, but since I'm normally very good at those shots my confidence gets me in trouble and I am slow to accept that it's time to chance to winter chipping techniques.

Either technique it costs strokes. The key to winning is to lose less strokes than everybody else.