Tiger Stuffs Difficult Lob Shot From Thick Rough

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

Tiger Woods played in his first Ryder Cup match since 2012 on Friday morning at Le Golf National in fourballs alongside Patrick Reed.

While the pair ended up dropping the match, Tiger was able to hit a few memorable shots, most notably among them was an awesome up-and-down for birdie from some thick rough left of the green on the par-5 third hole. 

SwingU instructor Aaron Ungvarsky explains how you can mimic the 60-yard lob shot that put Tiger to kick-in range.

Playing a high lob that needs to carry nearly 60 yards is all about force; more specifically, the force of the club through impact and the force we generate with our body in the swinging motion.

First, let’s cover the impact force.

The strike does not need to be all ball. As we see with Tiger’s shot, the ball was sitting in the rough and he had to anticipate some grass coming between the club and the ball. To that point, free yourself up to make a complete backswing and generate your normal full-swing clubhead speed as you transition from the top. Tiger got the wedge all the way back and used both his arms and upper body to generate sufficient speed through the rough.

Now, making a full swing with considerable force from 60 yards seems like too much, but when you factor in an open clubface at address, which adds even more loft to your wedge as well as thick rough that slows the club down, anything but full speed would mean coming up short. The additional loft transfers energy at impact to send the ball more upwards as opposed to more forward.

The second element of force that is crucial is found in the body motion.

Watch Tiger swing and notice how he transfers body weight to the lead side to support the motion of the downswing and follow through. We observe him extending his upper body by pushing down into the ground and simultaneously lifting his spine. As this happens, the arms and hands are now free to release the club down into the ball and impact zone without any crowding from the body. This means he will have full extension and maximum efficiency when hitting the shot.

As you practice this shot, be aware of how the club is set at address and alter the openness of the clubface to vary your trajectory and distance along with changing the length of your backswing.

This will give you a quick feel for the force you need to impart so that you can hit your landing spots like Tiger did.