Rory McIlroy is swinging well this week at the PGA Championship, but the one weakness has been his distance control with his irons, markedly on shots less than 150 yards. The two-time PGA Championship winner has had to rely heavily on his scrambling from around greens. Even worse, these errant shots usually leave him with very little green to work with.
The miss that turned into a momentum builder happened on the 14th hole on Saturday morning. With Rory’s approach flying the intended landing area and settling in some of the thickest rough on the course, a shot had to be played to an elevated green with little green to work with.
With Rory’s shot selection for the delicate pitch from over the green, there was even less room for error as he opened the face of a lofted wedge. Naturally, he pulled it off and turned a par or bogey into a birdie.
“Are these guys good or what?!”
— PGA of America (@PGA) August 11, 2018
Here’s how you can play like Rory from heavy greenside rough and get up and down more often.
- Align yourself square to the target with the ball slightly forward of center. We want to be square to the target to avoid opening up to the target too early and losing power at impact. Also, playing the ball forward of center allows the wedge to be fully released at the bottom of the shot.
- Take a narrower stance to improve balance and choke down on the club to gain more control of the clubhead.
- Just like the pros, take as many practice swings in a similar lie to get a feel for how the club and grass with react to the swing. Once you have a good feel, you may need to alter the club or ball position to make sure the club battles through the rough, and at the minimum, gets the ball on the putting surface.
- The backswing should find the hands between waist and shoulder height with a full wrist hinge. You can check and rehearse this position by keeping the left arm (for the right-handed golfer) soft but straight and make sure the club shaft is pointing up towards the sky.
- The follow-through will be shorter due to the heavy grass slowing the club down. Make sure the club is released and the finish is a reverse image of the backswing.
- Remember, the more loft you take, the more you will need to accelerate through impact to move the ball.