3 Tips To Escape Thick Rough And Save Shots Around The Green

In this video, Nick Dougherty gives one of our readers the tools to escape even the worst lies

Nick Dougherty and Golf Monthly reader Amanda Rowley hitting a shot out the rough at Wentworth
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Being able to get up and down more often is a vital skill to develop, especially if you're a relative newcomer to the game. That's why in this episode of our Game.Improved series, TeeTimeTips founder Nick Dougherty (opens in new tab) was keen to help out one of our readers who wants to take the next step.

All too often, beginner golfers are lured by hitting the driver and they neglect the 'scoring clubs'. It's easy to see why this is the case, especially when you look at the new TaylorMade Kalea Premier women's driver. Gone is the stereotypical and outdated aesthetic regularly seen in women's clubs, and in is a stylish colour scheme that matches the performance in other areas. It's a club that's hard to put down.

However, when it comes to practising, there should always be a balance, as this game has a funny way of testing your weaknesses at the worst moment. For Amanda, that means committing more time to learning how to escape from a bad lie. Luckily, Nick was on hand to assist.

Hit down and accelerate

When it comes to the short game, Amanda was keen for some advice out the rough in particular. It's a part of the game many people struggle with and Nick identified some common faults in Amanda's technique. Fortunately, she is still quite new to golf, so it shouldn't take as long to ingrain better habits.

"It was more about making peace with, especially for female golfers and juniors, although Amanda is strong, when we get in the rough the instinct is to try and lift it out," Nick said. "It's the same for everybody really because the lie is gnarly and it’s a worry about getting it out.

Nick Dougherty helping Golf Monthly reader Amanda Rowley to hit shots out the rough

Swing down to lift the ball up

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

"Ironically, the lifting move throws the sternum back, and if nothing else, it shallows out the angle of attack and means you have to come through more grass. This makes it harder to escape. 

"So, we need to make peace with going down into the ground and it’s the club, not me, that gets the ball out of the grass. The loft lifts it out. ‘I’m going in here and that’s going to get it out’."

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Another key component of success when trying to engineer a shot out the rough is acceleration. It's all well and good hitting down on the ball, but if you don't combine it with the necessary speed, the club isn't going to cut through the grass. 

Nick added: "Going in there you have to make peace with hitting it harder. It’s like being in a bunker. You need to trust the fact you need to go in with more speed to get the club through the grass to lift the ball out. Not enough speed will create way more problems. She demonstrated her prowess with this shot straight away."

Length of swing

As part of anyone's step-by-step guide to pitching, distance control should be among the top priorities. It's something Amanda also finds difficult but, leaning on one of his popular TeeTimeTips, Nick was able to help.

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"Getting a feeling for the pace, we talked about controlling distance as something Amanda struggles with. So we tried to match the swing on both sides because that becomes easy, whether it’s quarter-quarter or half-half, and having a rhythm that stays the same.

"Having the mirror image on both sides with a flow that’s a little like a pendulum of a clock, it’s really easy to judge distance. Whereas if I’m always going to be different - sometimes short and quick, sometimes longer and slower - how do you know?

Nick Dougherty with three Golf Monthly readers at Wentworth

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

"If you've got the same feeling every time you can start to build confidence. That’s why you see the guys on tour next to the ball trying to feel the shot using the pace in their swing they’ve practised over and over. They know the pace so it’s easy to recreate. It’s almost like you’ve had a practice go.

"All you’ve got to do is recreate it and that takes the pressure off. Again, not an overly difficult thing to apply but she did it so well. I think she made some really big strides."

Andrew Wright
Staff Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1