The U.S. Open can be fun to watch for us regular golfers/hackers. It is the one tournament where the pros struggle because the course setup is so difficult. They make the rough extremely thick and the greens hard and fast. Often times players have to simply hack their shots back to the fairway from the rough in those conditions. Today lets talk about how to deal with "U.S. Open" style thick rough.
The first thing one must do when his ball has found this brutal rough is evaluate the lie. Sometimes there's a lucky break and the ball is sitting up a bit. Sometimes, unfortunately, the ball settles down deep. Evaluate the lie. Forget about the green or where you want to go for a minute and determine what kind of shot will get the ball out of this situation best. Even though you're 185 to the green, you may elect to blast out of the lie with a sand wedge and take your medicine.
If your lie is buried deep in the rough you probably need to take your lumps and get the ball back in play any way possible. Keep in mind that more lofted clubs make the ball go up more than low lofted clubs. That means the ball will not have to travel through as much of the thick grass. Pick a lofted club, wedge and swing hard. Make sure to accelerate through the swing as the grass will want to stop the club.
Long rough can grab the club and turn the face in varying ways. It may grab the hosel and shut the face down, making the ball go left. The grass may grab the toe of the club face, making the club open and the ball to travel to the right. Keeping a firmer than normal left hand on the grip will help reduce the club turning, but may not prevent it depending on the thickness of the rough.
Going For It
If you catch a decent lie in the thick rough and you think you have a good chance at reaching the green, remember your read of the lie. The ball may come out dead if the club is stopped by the thick rough. It may also explode and travel even farther if you've caught a "flyer" lie. Once again be sure to accelerate with a firm left grip.
The ball will have absolutely NO spin so that factor must be considered. You may need to choose less club and let the ball roll up to the green.
The best advice for shots like thick U.S. Open rough is to "get out of trouble as quickly as possible." If that means taking your medicine and wedging it out to the fairway then so be it. Don't make the situation worse by hitting a hero shot, which will likely end up back in that same thick rough you were trying to get out of in the first place!