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How thick is the rough at Oak Hill, really? This video helps explain it

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It feels as though before every U.S. Open or PGA Championship, there’s some sort of fear mongering about the length of the rough, and how unplayable it will be.

Predictions about over-par winning scores, player interviews calling it unfair, and, of course, the obligatory “ball dropping in the rough” videos posted to social media.

We’ve gotten most of that at Oak Hill Country Club this year ahead of the 2023 PGA Championship.

As I’m writing this article right now, I suppose I’m feeding into the frenzy, too. I don’t mind that, though. I’ll be part of the system that draws intrigue to major championships. That ain’t so bad.

The thing is, though, that the Oak Hill rough is some of the most difficult rough I’ve ever seen on a golf course. It’s not 10 inches long like Winged Foot, or knee-high like some Open Championship fescue. It’s just healthy, juicy, and dense rough that makes it imperative for players to hit fairways.

During the Monday-Wednesday practice rounds, players tested their limits from the rough. They dropped balls in different spots, seeing how far they could advance a fairway wood…a hybrid…a 4 iron…a 6 iron.

Players were looking to answer this question: “What’s the lowest-lofted club, realistically, that I can use to advance the ball as far as possible when I miss the fairway?”

As many quickly found out, the answer is likely “none of the above.”

The longest “realistic” club that I heard from most players, caddies, and Tour reps that I spoke to is the 7-iron. And that’s being generous, because more responses seemed to fall on the 8-iron side of the coin.

Some players have replaced their longest iron with a hybrid or higher-lofted fairway wood to try and combat the rough and get more launch/spin on the ball, but the truth is, hitting a short iron or wedge back into the fairway will be the most prudent play when the ball sits down.

And, in this Oak Hill rough, in this mid-May upstate New York weather, the ball always seems to settle down.

PGA Championship alternate (and the 139th best player in the world) Aaron Rai is catching a social media stray right now as one of his rough experiments with a hybrid got posted to Twitter.

The result wasn’t pretty.

But Rai’s result wasn’t completely uncommon, either. Especially during the practice rounds when players were testing out their limit.

Tommy Fleetwood provided GolfWRX his full Oak Hill review in an Instagram video, which is embedded below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by GolfWRX (@golfwrx)

In the video, he says, “You might get lucky with a lie that you can get a mid-iron out of it, but for the majority it’s a gouge with one of the short clubs.”

That’s a scary statement. You might get lucky to be able to hit a mid-iron?!

Yikes.

I asked a Trackman rep if he spent time on the course with any players. He told me he was regularly seeing short iron spin rates drop below 3,000 rpm. In one instance, for example, Xander Schauffele’s spin rate with an 8-iron was just 2,400 rpm.

The general rule of thumb for iron spin is to take the iron number and multiply it by 1,000. So, an 8-iron spin rate should generally be around 8,000 rpm. The Oak Hill rough is so thick that his 8-iron spin rate dropped over 5,000 rpm, looking more in the range of a well-struck driver.

At Oak Hill this year, if the ball is in the rough, the first priority is getting up and over the thick patch of grass directly in front of the ball. Hitting the green comes secondary.

Oh, and before you clown Aaron Rai for duffing his hybrid out of the rough during a practice round, or say something like “that’s why he’s an alternate,” just keep in mind that he’s currently 10th on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy, 28th in Greens in Regulation percentage, 23rd in approaches from 200-225 yards, and he’s hit 33 consecutive greens in regulation.

Maybe the rough is just really friggin thick.

Strap in for a fun 2023 PGA Championship. Hopefully this gave you a rough idea of the situation outside the fairways at Oak Hill.

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

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Equipment

Spotted: Adam Scott with new Miura iron setup

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Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from a piece our Andrew Tursky originally wrote for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report. Head over there for the full article.

The irons that Scott has in the bag this week are a mixed set of Miura CB-302 long irons and KM-700 mid-to-short irons (“KM” stands for company founder “Katsuhiro Miura”).

Although Scott has mostly been a traditional blade iron user throughout his veteran career, he’s opted for irons with slightly more forgiveness built into them in the last year.

To that point, Scott’s new KM-700 irons are actually one-piece forged designs, except they have a unique heel-toe design that pushes the center of gravity toward the heel of the club, and effectively expands the sweet spot to make them more forgiving. The irons also have a complex cavity design allowing optimal center of gravity and turf interaction.

The KM-700 irons strive to combine the looks and feel of a traditional blade iron, mixed with the modern complexity of high-tech and perimeter-weighted cavity-back irons.

Scott’s new irons include Miura’s red hanko stamping, which Miura calls its “stamp of approval,” plus Scott’s personal logo has been added to the back cavities, as well.

Although the irons are freshly in the bag this week, Scott’s player manager confirmed with GolfWRX.com on Tuesday that he first received the irons at the Miura headquarters in Japan while he was there for the 2023 Zozo Championship. He also briefly used the KM-700 short irons when he switched to them mid-event at the 2023 Wyndham Championship, but we haven’t seen them in his bag since the brief experiment.

For the rest of the piece, head over to PGATour.com.

Check out recent Adam Scott WITBs below.

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Whats in the Bag

Keith Mitchell WITB 2024 (May)

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Driver: Mizuno ST-Z 230 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS T1100 75 6.5

3-wood: TaylorMade Qi10 (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Blue 90 TX

7-wood: Titleist TS2 (21 degrees, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 90 TX

Irons: Mizuno Pro 225 (2), Mizuno Pro 225 “KM-92” (4-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Mizuno T24 (46-08S @47, 50-07S @51, 56-10D @55), Titleist Vokey Design WedgeWorks Proto (60-T)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour
Grip: Golf Pride Pro Only

Grips: Golf Pride Victory Cord

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

See the rest of Keith Mitchell’s WITB in the forums.

 

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Equipment

Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (5/22/24): Piretti Workshop Tesora putter

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At GolfWRX, we are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways.

It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buying and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Piretti Workshop Tesora putter.

From the seller: (@zwhitworth): “Piretti Workshop Tesora – KBS GPS Matte Black shaft and Ping PP58 non-cord grip. Playing 35”. Micro/skim milled face. Limited headcover. Includes weight kit and wrench. Some light wear marks (ready to game not mount on wall). Relisting with a huge price drop –$800.

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Piretti Workshop Tesora putter

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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