Why pros are obsessed with doing this before high-pressure U.S. Open rounds

In a special edition of Play Smart, GOLF & ADP have partnered to uncover how the best players in the world prepare for the biggest events and how it can help you play smarter, better golf.

BROOKLINE, Mass. — In some ways, the brutality of the first round of a U.S. Open is welcome relief for some players. Practice rounds ahead of the first round at The Country Club were gruelingly slow. Most players played only nine holes a round, to avoid spending all day on the course. Others, like Rory McIlroy, played bright and early to get their work in before the heat set in.

Thursday marked the culmination of that pre-round preparation. This week, I’ve been paying extra close attention to how players prep for a major and as you can hear me explain in the video above, I’ve come to find out that pros are really, really obsessed with practicing from every different possible lie around the greens.

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Pros may hit a few shots from the fairway, but around the greens, players are tossing their balls everywhere: into the thick stuff, into bunkers, onto fringes and everywhere in between.

It’s less about trying out different clubs — they’ll use the same club to hit multiple shots from the same location — and they’re not paying too much attention to where the pin might be, either. Rather, they’re focusing on the grass. They’re trying to uncover how the ball reacts out of different lies: Does it jump more than they expect? Or come out lower with less spin? Do they need to swing harder, or softer? What is a mistake they may potentially make from this lie? Is it so bad in one spot that they should try to avoid it at all costs?

It’s this kind of attention to detail that the rest of us can learn from, too. When you’re practicing before your round, or playing the course in front of you, dive deep into the details of your club and ball interact with the grass. That’s where pros spend most of their preparation, and the ones who do it best, will reap the rewards from it.

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.