What is ‘patchy’ rough? Ian Poulter explains using a simple experiment

The rough looks U.S. Open-like at TPC Harding Park.


The PGA Championship is this week, but don’t be surprised if you have to remind yourself of that fact. The tight fairways, narrow greens, and thick rough mean you’d be forgiven for thinking it feels more like a U.S. Open.

How thick is the rough, you ask? Enter European Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter, who conducted a simple experiment to show fans how the rough will be playing at TPC Harding Park.

The issue isn’t so much the overall thickness, it’s the inconsistency. That, as Poulter explains, is what patchy rough is. Some “patches” of grass are longer than others, which means the rough is textured and often unpredictable. You may get lucky, or you may not.

To show how the rough playing, he dropped two balls: one in the first cut and another in the second cut. The first cut was a practical non-issue. He hit a 5-iron and rolled it up on the green.

Using the same club from a lie with a nasty patch of rough behind his ball, he swung hard and barely advanced it up the fairway — a major difference.

Check out Poulter’s full video below:


Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.