Dustin Johnson is back in form heading into this week’s major, the U.S. Open held at Shinnecock Hills. And winning wasn’t all he did in Memphis… over the course of the event, DJ had three impressive hole-outs, saving his best for the last hole of the tournament. His final shot can teach those of you watching at home how to take on the rough with your low and mid-irons.
All week players commented on the importance of approaching the greens from the fairway and avoiding the gnarly rough at TPC Southwind. However, when faced with an accessible pin and what you judge to be a decent lie, try these steps to muscle out an iron and give yourself a look at birdie (or maybe just hole it out yourself).
Selecting the right club is key. For example, if you are faced with a 150 yard shot and you normally would play an 8-iron, club-down a full or a half club* and follow these steps to get max distance and power from a below-average lie.
- At address, place the ball back of center. This will give you the best shot at ball-first contact and minimize the amount of rough coming between the ball and the grooves of the clubface. You will notice a good amount of shaft lean created with the back ball position, this is perfect for the shot we want.
- Next, during your practice swings, rehearse a steeper-than-normal swing plane. This ensures a sharp angle of attack and reduces the chances of the ball sliding up the clubface.
- Finally, since it is a short or midiron you are playing the shot with, feel free to add some body weight to the lead side. Doing so will reduce your normal transfer of pressure and keep you very centered over the shot. You should feel “on top of the ball” throughout the swing. We still want to make a full shoulder turn, but staying more over the ball allows us to command the impact zone and stay strong as the club works through the rough.
Make these slight adjustments and get aggressive from the rough when the time is right.
Aaron Ungvarsky, PGA
*note: achieve the half club by choking down on the grip halfway and turn that 8-iron into a 9.5-iron