The Short Game - Downhill Pitch Shots from Rough

Staring at a downhill pitch shot out of rough can be intimidating and may even seem hopeless. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there, and in this video, I’ll show you how to hit the perfect, lofted shot that’ll save you a ton of strokes. You’ll learn the 6 keys to hitting downhill pitch shots from the rough.

  • Weaken the Left and Right Hand Grip to Hold Off Release of Face
  • Use 60 Degree Wedge
  • Keep Face Open With Lot of Loft
  • Move Ball Back in Stance
  • Match Shoulders With Slope
  • Stance Open With Target
  • Steeper Swing to Match Slope

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Kyaw Thet
Is there any video related to stock shot from rough? Is that the same as RST?
August 3, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Kyaw. For stock shot in the rough. Stand a hair closer and firm up the wrists a little bit. This will create a slightly steeper plane/AOA and keep the club face from turning too much.
August 3, 2020
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Kyaw Thet
Hi Craig, Thanks so much for your reply. Squat to square and Post-up are the same as RST?
August 3, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Kyaw. Yes.
August 3, 2020
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Ronan
Hi, On shot like this or on any chip/pitch shots, do you want to be aiming for the hole or to select a landing spot and aim for it ? Ronan
January 25, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Ronan. Look for an aiming spot and how the green/break will take it to the hole.
January 25, 2019
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Ronan
Thanks Craig, Even from the Bunker ? Ronan
January 27, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Ronan. Unless you are trying to fly it in the cup. You need to judge how it will roll out and spin to leave yourself the best opportunity from its landing spot.
January 27, 2019
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Ronan
Thanks Craig, And how do you train your brain to aim a specific spot? I’ve always been better at judging the whole distance and to strike with feeling.. Last question, do you want to do the same when you roll a 6 iron for example or is it more on chip/pitch shots with open clubs?
January 29, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Ronan. I agree. You need to visualize and see the whole picture in your head. How it will roll out, break, check, etc. Once, you have the picture in your mind. Optimize the best spot for you ball to land to take the break and roll out the proper distance. It is a feel shot. Don't delete the feel, but visualize where the ball will have the best chance to go in, or leave you the best tap in spot. Usually with the longer clubs you won't have a lot of flight. Tougher to gauge landing spot. But, you still can pick the spot and see the ball roll out like a putt in your mind.
January 29, 2019
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GC
Did chuck even hit the ball? How similar is this to a bunker shot?
June 8, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Grant. Yes, he did hit the ball. You can see the ball fly under the slow motion conditions at about 4:55. Not very similar to the bunker. The ball position, stance and holding off will change.
June 9, 2016
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terrence
where was this taken? Great video, but I want to play this course.
November 26, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Terrance. The Golf Club at Black Rock in Coeur d'alene, Idaho. It is a fantastic track.
November 27, 2015
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Loran
My short game is terrible on the golf course. When I attempt to get the ball from downhill to the green, it always comes up short. Even worse, when the grass is so high, like weed-length, I don't know if I should hit at a steep angle or slide under the ball. Should I even attempt? Or just take a penalty?
May 29, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Loan. You need to get a steeper angle matching more of the slope. It will help you cut through the weeds and pop the ball out more.
May 30, 2015
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Loran
Ok. Should I limit my follow through so the ball will not be a flier? Is this technique mostly from feeling and experience?
May 30, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Mostly from experience. You learn to chop down on the ball to let it pop up versus full steam ahead which can result in the flier.
May 30, 2015
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Loran
When my lie is half in the rough and the other half in the fairway, greed for distance takes over and I am tempted to use my woods instead of an iron...what club should I select in this case?
May 22, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
You can use either one. The key is to know that the rough may grab the hosel or toe depending on ball location.
May 23, 2015
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Shane
What about weight distribution?
December 13, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Shane. The weight will tend to lean more towards the trail side.
December 13, 2014
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Shonn
What about a down hill tight lie on burmuda grass? Faced that one two days ago at Indian Wells and came up short after short siding my second shot.
October 17, 2014
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
Shonn, I've been doing some reading on burmuda grass as it pertains to golf since you asked this question, which is why my response took so long. From what I have read, if it is buried and you don't have much green to work with, you might want to treat it like it's a bunker shot in order to get it to pop out of the grass. However, if it's not buried, the suggestion was to brush the top of the grass with your practice swings because if you get under it too much, you'll inevitably come up short. The reading that I was doing also suggested using a club with less loft (providing it's not buried) when you have more green to work with and treat it more like a bump and run shot. I'm from Pennsylvania and we don't get a lot of Bermuda grass up here like there is say in Texas so, my advice is solely from reading about Bermuda grass and not from personal experience. If you encounter Bermuda grass a lot, I would focus on hitting many shots out of this grass and play different shots to see which works best for you. I will get in touch with some of the other RST instructors and see if any of them have more of an expertise on playing out of Bermuda grass. Also, in my reading, shortening the backswing and accelerating through the ball was said to be paramount in getting desired results. R.J.
October 18, 2014
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ashish
can you do a video on uphill pitch shot from the rough.
October 9, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Thanks for the suggestion Ashish! We will put it under consideration.
October 9, 2014
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suresh
Very good technique and video. How does the setup and swing changes if we want to pitch from uphill ..... Thanks .. Suresh
July 19, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Suresh. Pretty much the opposite. Other than stance. Keep the stance slightly open. Shoulders level to the slope. More weight on the lead leg. Ball tends to be up in the stance. Don't want it back because of steep/chunk side effect. Club will naturally want to be lofted. Don't need to open it up as much. Keep the lead side going through.
July 19, 2014
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Jacek
It seems that you have a much wider stance than in any of the other videos I've seen thus far. This isn't addressed in the video from what I understood. Is that unique to an uphill or downhill lie?
June 11, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
His stance is a little wider in the video to support standing on such steep angle. It doesn't look that steep on camera, but I've been on that spot. A lot more downhill than it looks.
June 11, 2014
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lisa
Very good technique to handle this tough shot. What 's about technique for a 120 yard down hill shot, over a lake?. Thank you.
April 11, 2014
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
This sort of shot would take minor setup adjustments. You want to make sure that the shoulder plane is more level to the slope so you may have to adjust your access tilt. You also need to make sure the lower body is very sturdy and that you are trying to swing the clubhead down the plane of the slope through impact.
April 14, 2014

The Short Game - Downhil Shots

Downhill shots out of the rough are a very challenging shot in the short game. They don't know how to play them. There's a specific technique that you want to use. It's going to really help you get out, up and down when you hit a shot and you short side yourself and you have a really hard time getting the ball to stop quickly. What happens nine times out of ten, is that the club face gets hung up in the rough and gets shut down. You take all the loft off the golf club, it launches across the green and you're in big trouble. There's a specific short game technique that I'm going to show you now that's going to help you with this shot.

                                There's a few different things you've got to know. The first one I'm going to show you is how to set up with the club face in your golf grip. Before we get into the ball position and all of those things. Like I'm going to show you next. We're going to get the club face and the grip set up perfectly correct.

                                So the first thing you want to do is you want to weaken your left hand grip. This is important because what you want to do is you want to be able to hold off the release of the club face and not give the club face to shut down and be able to hold it firm enough that you can hold it through the thickness of the rough and the rough won't shut it down as well. This will also give you the added benefit of having a little extra loft coming through, so you're not worried about launching the ball off the green because the down hill slope's always going to make the loft stronger than it normally is. It's going to make it have a tendency to want to launch across the green and obviously because we're short-sided here, we want to hit a short, delicate shot. So we want to have as much loft on there as we can. So of course, I'm using my 62 degree wedge.

                                So, what I'm going to do first, I'm going to put my left hand grip on just my normal grip. I'm going to weaken it and then I'm going to weaken the right hand to match. This is going to allow me to be aggressive and hold a firm, flat left wrist, while holding the club face open through the hitting area, so I'm not worried about de-lofting the club. Okay.

                                The second thing is I'm going to hold the golf club face open, just like I would in a golf sand shot. As you can see, I'm not going to square the club face. That's going to take loft off. I want a lot of loft, again because the down hill slope. So what I'm going to do with the club face open and my weaker grip is then move the ball back about 2/3 of the way back in my stance. This is where a lot of people go wrong. They play it kind of where their normal ball position would be. They get way on their front foot. That's going to make them have a very steep angle of attack, that's going to cause the club face to lose loft and so then they're also going to get the club dragging through the grass too long. The reason I moved the ball back I my stance is for two things, one, I want to make sure I get the balls relatively clean as I can. So I do want a steep angle of attack, but I don't want to get a lot of grass between the club face and the ball.

                                So when I moved the ball back in my golf setup, it allows me to make sure that I'm not going to go right underneath the ball. That's a big fear when you have this much loft on there, is that you just slip the blade right under the ball. The ball sits there and it gets just buried under a worst lie. Moving it back is going to allow me to have a steep angle of attack and get a lot of ball, before the club face starts interacting too much with the grass. Once I've got these three things set up, weaker grip, open club face, ball back 2/3 of my stance, then I've just got to worry about this stroke, and my swing's not going to be much different than normal, except I'm not going to have a lot of body turns. It's going to be a very wristy, handsy stroke going back because I want to pick the club up to get it up off the grass and I allow me to have a lot of wrist angle, coming down, so that I have some power to get the club through the thick grass.

                                The last thing I'm going to do, is I'm going to hold off the release of the club face. This is a key to the short game. I mentioned that earlier with the grip, is as I come through I'm going to hold the club face open, so that it doesn't flip over on me and launch the ball across the green. Again I wanted to maintain the loft as I come through. So let's take a look what this is going to look like. About 2/3 of the way back in my stance, stance is open to the target. It's about 35 degrees or so, roughly. That's a comfort thing. Club face open, laying back, weaker grip, and then as I go back I'm going to pick the club up relatively sharply and then come down and hold off the release of the club.

                                That ball comes out very nice and soft, even though I'm on a pretty severe down hill lie. The ball came out really nice and gentle and I've got a good shot at making ... getting up and down for par. So again, just work on your setup. One thing I didn't mention there was your spine angle.

                                Typically you're going to want to try and match your spine with this slope. Because I'm playing this ball back in my stance, I'm not going to get it that severe. So you'll notice that when the ball is back, my spine angle is not exactly matching the slope. That may be contrary to what you hear a lot, but again, because the ball position and the way I'm holding off the release of the club, and because I'm moving it back in my stance, I don't want to be this far forward again. I'm trying to maintain loft. If I get really steep on it, I'm going to come down even steeper, with a more steep angle of attack and that's going to take more loft off. So those are the keys to hitting a perfect short-sided, down hill shot, out of the rough and a better golf short game.

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