How to navigate the devilish tight lies around Donald Ross greens
The first three rounds of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship have given the LPGA players many choices to putt or chip from tight lies around the large, tricky Donald Ross greens. The pin placements, penalizing drop offs and quickness of the greens should all be taken into account when a player is choosing their shot.
Here are a few helpful tips to help you assess lies near the green in tight, closely mown areas and decide whether to putt or not to putt.
Question No. 1: Which shot do you feel most confident in and most prepared to hit well?
Preparation is key to build confidence in a shot, so whatever you practice the most is a what you should lean toward. Always play to the strengths you have! I don’t recommend attempting to hit a high flop shot with a 60° wedge when all you practice are bump and runs with your 9-iron.
Question No. 2: Where is the best place to miss it?
While you are trying to make a good stroke and hit it where you want to, there should always room for error — it’s part of golf. If keeping the ball on the green seems more difficult with a chip, then rolling it close to the hole with a putt may be your best option. If going long, short, left or right of the pin will result in an even tougher shot, avoid those areas. Giving yourself a chance to make a putt is going to keep the momentum of your round going. Chipping it off the other side of the green and having to chip again can be avoided.
Question No. 3: Are there many mounds, big breaks or tiers between you and the pin? If you putt the ball, will the slopes of the green affect it too much and create a difficult next putt?
Hitting the ball to the correct quadrant of the green is essential to getting up and down and saving strokes. On Saturday, a player chose to putt through the closely mown area, over two huge mounds to a tucked back pin location from 40 feet away on No. 10. The putt ended up rolling off the left side of the green, short of the pin and she was left with a breaking 20-foot putt from the fringe. She made that long, breaking putt for par, but many average golfers would have a tough time making bogey from such a difficult spot. In some cases, chipping the ball over all of the mounds or sloped tiers is the safest option.
Developing a quick, effective process to choose whether to putt or not to putt is helpful in saving strokes and building confidence. On a course like Aronimink, it is important to pick the shot that is true to your game and has best chance at ending up close to the hole.