How to judge your lie in the rough

how to judge your lie in the rough

In this exclusive video, Golf Monthly coach Andrew Jones offers some invaluable advice on how to judge your lie in the rough this winter

Playing well in the winter is a test of your golfing instincts. Nowhere is this more applicable than when it comes to how to judge your lie in the rough. When the ground is wet underfoot, there is far less margin for error regarding the strike. Fractionally heavy contacts that would be fine in the summer are punished in the winter so you should approach with caution. Here, barely a foot apart, are three very different lies, illustrating how flexible your gameplan needs to be. These three shots will help you deal with any lie you face this winter.

Bad Lie

If your ball is sitting down in a wet or muddy lie, reach for your wedge. This will offer you more distance than any other club. When thinking about how to judge your lie in the rough set the ball back in your stance at address and place a fraction more weight on your lead foot. This will create a steeper angle of attack to help you find the cleanest strike possible in this difficult scenario.

Watch more long game tips videos

Medium Lie

Without much grass around the ball, it sits slightly down but there is nothing stopping the clubface making a full contact. In this scenario, set the ball in the middle of your stance so that your hands are a fraction ahead of the ball at address. This will help you find a downward, compressing strike but one that still offers plenty of flight and power.

How to pitch from muddy lies

Good Lie

One of the reasons that lies differ so much in the winter is the uneven growth of the grass. Patchy areas, particularly in the rough are typical and you’ll sometimes find your ball perched up. In this scenario you can opt for whichever club you need but place the ball further forward in your stance. Make sure your posture is as athletic as possible and then make a smooth swing to get the most from the great lie you’ve found.

Quick Tip

In the winter, the rules allow players to ‘prefer their lie.’ This means moving the ball anyway six inches away but not nearer the hole. This is a chance to give yourself a great lie, don’t miss it!

Neil Tappin
Digital Editor

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."


Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X