Posted on Leave a comment

What Is The Rough In Golf? – Explained!

what is the rough in golf
what is the rough in golf

Golf is known to be a technical sport full of technical terms that you may not know the meaning of. One of those golf terms commonly mentioned on golf courses and TV broadcasts is the word “Rough”.

If you are reading this article, you may wonder: What exactly does the “Rough” mean in golf?

In this article, we will explain to you exactly what the “Rough” is in golf.

What Is The Rough In Golf?

On a golf course, the Rough is the group of areas on a golf course that has taller turf height. Golf balls easily get stuck in the tall turf of the rough, and do not roll well at all. Due to this, the rough is often viewed as a hazard in the game of golf, to a similar degree as bunkers.

In the great game of golf, the term “Rough” is a word that is mentioned on golf courses all the time, almost anywhere on a golf course.

In golf, the “Rough” is the area of a golf hole or golf course that has taller turf height than the rest of the golf hole. The “Rough” usually outlines the perimeter of any given golf hole.

The rough serves as a sort of hazard, or “punishment” for hitting the golf ball outside of the intended playing areas. The rough’s taller turf sort of “traps” the golf ball and prevents it from rolling, or being launched easily, which is why it is considered a hazard.

The rough is very present around most of the perimeter of putting greens, with the fringe standing as a barrier between the rough and the putting green area.

If your golf ball lands in the rough, it will be very hard for you to get a good shot out of the rough, and your carry distance will likely suffer. If you are unlucky or inexperienced, your golf ball may not even leave the ground sometimes.

On the other hand, if your golf ball lands directly on the edge of the rough, meaning on the fringe, you may be able to still get a decent shot off.

Down below is a real-world example of a section of Rough on a golf course:

rough golf course terrain
Rough Golf Course Terrain

As you can see in the image above, the turf height of the rough is significant, and will greatly slow down the speed of the ball, impeding your ease of ball striking and rolling.

It is important to note that the Rough is not actually part of the fringe or the putting green. You can tell the difference between each zone by looking at their turf heights.

The turf height of the Rough is taller than the turf height of both the fairway and the putting green. This fact incites golfers to seriously try and keep their ball on the intended playing areas, as shorter turf is easier to play on.

If your ball often ends up in the rough, consider reading our guide on taking better shot decisions to help you keep your ball on the fairway: Top Golf Course Management Skills To Stay Out Of The Rough.

Although the turf height of the rough is taller than most other turfs on a golf course, it is interesting to note that it is mowed sometimes in order to prevent excess growth.

Different golf courses use different standards as to how to mow the rough areas of their holes. Some golf courses mow their rough areas in one singular turf height, while others use two turf height layers, referred to as the “first cut” and “second cut” of rough.

On rare occasions, certain golf courses even have a third turf height for the rough, called the “third cut” of rough. However, this is more likely to be found on expensive golf courses, as the extra level of detail requires more time and money to replicate.

Synonyms of the term “rough” include the slang terms hay, lettuce, snake farm, cabbage, jungle, broccoli and spinach. However, there exist many others synonyms of the term “rough”, and players frequently invent new terms for one of a golfer’s greatest enemies.

Origin Of The Term “Rough”

Linguistic experts claim that the term “Rough” means “having an uneven or unsmooth surface”. In a golf setting, the area designated by the term “Rough” is uneven and a lot less smooth than the intended playing surfaces like the fairway, the fringe, and the putting green.

Since the “rough” is the essentially the least smooth turf based surface of a golf hole, as its turf height is the tallest, it makes sense where its name came from.

To get reduce your chances of getting stuck on the rough, you can read our guide: How To Improve Your Golf Score? – 9 Pro Tips.


There you go! After reading this article, you have learned exactly what the word “Rough” means in golf.

Do you have any other words you wish to know more about? Do you hate landing your golf ball in the rough? Should golf courses mow their “rough” areas shorter to give golfers a more enjoyable experience? Let us know in the comments down below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *