PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — One of the true challenges of the U.S. Open this week at Pebble Beach is the rough around the very small greens. The rough is long and the greens are tiny.
It’s not something players compete on very often, so in preparation for a difficult week, players have spent a lot of time in the practice area and also around the greens on the course during their practice rounds. What is also interesting to watch is their on-course preparation as they anticipate different pin placements.
These short pitch shots to pins close to the edge of the green from thick rough require incredible technique and a relatively big swing, which demands real commitment.
One of the consistent fundamentals are great postures and set ups, but that goes without saying when you are discussing PGA tour players.
Consistent to their technique is their backswings are very steep in that they swing their clubhead really well, allowing the club shaft to elevate, which creates a great angle between the lead arm and the club shaft.
This bigger swing and steeper backswing help create an angle to the ball without getting stuck in the grass.
On the downswing, the clubhead should swing and be allowed to release. When the clubhead swings, this allows the shaft to get back to straight up and down at impact or even leaning back away from the target, which will increase the loft relative to the effective loft of the club at impact. This will allow the ball to come higher and softer and not roll as much once it lands on the green.
This is one of the more difficult shots in the game. We can all learn from this technique but it requires commitment to the bigger swing, hitting the ground and swinging the club head.
Just like the best players in the world are doing, you should spend time practicing this before you try it on the course.