Navigating the greenside rough, to say nothing of a short-sided situation like the one pictured, requires finesse, commitment and an understanding of how the clubface interacts with the ball.
Many golfers try to finesse pitch shots by taking their normal setup and simply swinging. This often results in deceleration, which can cause major consistency issues in contact and distance control. You want to make an aggressive swing, and to do that you need to set up in a way that will allow the clubhead to slide through the grass and underneath the ball.
Try this: Take an alignment rod or a club and set it just outside your lead foot. Point one end at the ball but make sure it’s perpendicular to your target line. As you address the ball, line up the leading edge of your wedge with the rod. With this forward ball position, you’ll be able to make an aggressive swing, and the ball will pop out of the rough high and land soft, giving you a great chance to save par.
Bernie Najar is the director of instruction at Caves Valley GC in Owings Mills, Md.