One of the most common complaints we hear is that the rough is thickest along the edge of the fairway so a small miss is more penal than a big miss. That is definitely not fair or preferable to us. Much of the blame goes to errant irrigation but that is mostly untrue. While some spots do receive irrigation overspray from sprinklers we have really tried hard over the last few years to eliminate that as much as possible by moving sprinklers in or out for more precise coverage. There will still be some drift but it is minimal.
One of the biggest problems for that area along the edge of the rough is seen below. It is the amount of snow that piles up along those areas. Wind sweeps snow off the fairway and deposits it along the edge. A couple of these events can deposit 2-3 inches of extra moisture in that strip which can mean the difference between playable rough and unfair rough. There is not much we can do about snow blowing into the rough but we have started periodically mowing a couple of swaths around the outside of the primary rough cut to make that strip more even with the rest of the rough. Also this fall we aggressively applied glyphosate (Roundup) to those areas to thin out the bluegrass that wants to thrive in that wetter environment.
There will always be some luck as to the lie you might get in the wooga but we are cognizant of the conditions out there and try to make them as fair as possible while still maintaining the look of a links course with "unmaintained' rough.
Snow blown into edge of rough