When it comes to thick rough, the rule of thumb provided by the Master, Bobby Jones, is the same as it is for any other trouble. When you're in it, make certain you get out of it. And the best club for the job is usually the eight iron. Consider what Sam Snead had to say about this in his book, Sam Snead's Basic Guide to Good Golf. Under the heading entitled The Recovery Shot, the Slammer wrote:
"This is the shot you must hit to get safely out of trouble with one blow when failure may wind up costing you two or three strokes.
You will discover that the eight iron is the best club for this situation. It will take the ball up and out while at the same time it will provide fair distance with which you can position yourself nicely for your next shot.
Remember, you cannot expect to make the same distance out of long, heavy grass which you would be able to make from the ordinary lie. The most common mistake of the average player is in trying for too much distance on this shot instead of merely making certain that they are safely out of trouble, without losing any more strokes, while at the same time putting themselves in good position for their next shot.
As a result, they either knock the ball into an even worse spot or one where they are just as badly off as they were before.
It is much better, believe me, to take the penalty for the erring shot which put you in trouble and get yourself into a position where you might be able to make it up on your next shot--or at least keep yourself from having a really catastrophic hole.
Naturally, there will be times when you can use a longer club for your recovery shot. But your best bet in most trouble situations will be the eight iron.
To hit the recovery shot, play the ball off your right foot. The swing is an upright one, with the clubhead descending to the ball first. Once again, bear in mind that the clubhead will raise the ball. So don't try to lift the ball with hands ir arms or with 'body english.'"
The last two times out, Ken and I followed this advice to great effect. We both found that old eight iron to be just the thing for handling our U.S. Open rough. On seventeen yesterday, Ken made one of the best pars of his life using that eight iron to get himself out if jail. He had pushed his tee shot right and thought he was out of bounds. However, he found it barely in play, but nestled right down in the rough about 175 yards from the green.
Ken grabbed his eight iron and blasted the ball to about thirty yards short of the green. From there, he got it up and down for par. He was absolutely delighted. He had followed Sam's advice and turned what looked to be a bogey or worse into a par by using that eight iron instead of trying to hit a six iron onto the green from that lousy lie--which he might ordinarily have tried had he not learned the value of the eight iron in getting him out of jail.
Try it. I know you'll like it.