Judging Your Lie in the Rough

I have received a lot of really positive comments from many of you regarding our new short game practice area, and like you all, I am really proud of it and have been enjoying a few minutes here and there experiencing all what it has to offer (for those of you who have been fixing their ball marks, sanding their divots, and trying to keep as much bunker sand in the bunker as possible, thank you!) One of the interesting things for me has been adjusting to the fescue rough surrounding the green. Fescue requires about one third as much water as blue grass which makes it a grass of the future for sure, but chipping and pitching out of it takes a little getting used to. Being able to play out of different types of grass and judging your lie in the rough around the green is essential if you want to play good golf and "have a game that travels".

In general there are two types of lies in the rough, "clean lies" and "fluff lies". A clean lie is one where the rough will not come between the club face and the ball at impact. With a clean lie the ball will more or less react off the club like it would in the fairway but with a little less back spin so no real adjustment in set up or swing is needed. A fluff lie is one where there will be grass that interferes or comes between the face and the ball at impact and defuses some of the energy causing the ball to "come out slow" or travel shorter. Depending on how much fluff you have, you might want to consider placing the ball a little further back in your stance and taking a bigger faster swing. The difficulty or art of judging your lie of course is determining how much fluff there is. Experience helps, but in addition here are a few guidelines to consider.

  1. The more moisture there is in the grass blade, the more it will fluff. I often look for color. The darker green the more it will fluff. If the rough is brown just play a normal shot.
  2. The thicker or more coarse the grass blade the more it will fluff. For this reason fescue will fluff more than most blue grass.
  3. The more dense the grass the more it will fluff. When bent grass bleeds into the rough this will fluff the most.
  4. Grain has a huge influence on whether rough will get between the face and the ball or not. Down grain lies won’t fluff, side grain ones will a little, and into the grain shots the most.

Consider these tips when practicing out of the rough and not only will it make your practice more interesting, but it will also help you get the ball closer to the hole. Good luck! - James