Thick rough will be a huge obstacle at this week’s PGA Championship.
Oak Hill Country Club’s East Course is a big, mean golf course. It stretches out to nearly 7,400 yards, has deep, massive bunkers and features diabolical Donald Ross greens. As Oak Hill returns to the international spotlight for this week’s PGA Championship, it’s sure to show some teeth.
One element of defense the course will present is its long, gnarly rough. If players go wayward off the tee, they’ll be presented with some unforgiving lies.
Around the greens the course will play a little different than golf fans are used to seeing at Oak Hill. Although the course has hosted many major championships in the past, this will be the first since an Andrew Green restoration in 2019. Part of his team’s efforts included adding short-cut areas around the greens, forcing players to contend with some tight lies and tricky pitches.
But while tightly mown areas will feature prominently in this year’s championship, there will still be areas surrounding the greens with lush rough. And when the players find these spots, they’ll have to be creative to escape and get the ball close to the hole.
For one of the best methods for chipping it close from the thick rough, we turn to GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jonathan Yarwood and major champion Michael Campbell.
Absolute beast of a shot, grain into you, thick rough, delicate shot. Let’s see how the artistic @mcampbellgolf deals with it 🙌🏼🔥 pic.twitter.com/dy7oyvpWIJ
While it may be tempting to try to chop at the ball when it’s in the thick rough, the best technique actually requires a little finesse. You’ll still want to be aggressive with the shot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be choppy.
“How I play it is hands over my left knee,” Campbell says. “[Clubface] way open. And then I try to skid it through the grass and let my right hand release underneath.”
This technique is a bit like what you would see out of a bunker. Open the face, make a committed backswing and then try to let the club skid along the surface while releasing the clubhead and letting it pass your hands right at impact.
When this technique is executed properly, the ball will pop out of the thick stuff and land softly on the greens. It’s a shot you’ll see often this week, and the player who does it best might walk away with the Wanamaker Trophy.
Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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