Watching the action at Torrey Pines, I am continually struck by the importance of putting from the proper position. I watched many players lip out because they were in the wrong position caused by being on the wrong side of the hole. I realized that many approach shots were made with medium irons and that makes a difficult task for any golfer and Torrey Pines just makes it more challenging. But enough of the difficult conditions at the US Open, the lessons I learned from watching golf this weekend is hitting my approach shot the proper side of the hole is as critical for shooting low scores.
The concept of selecting a landing position on approach shots is the cornerstone of any course management strategy. When we focus on the best position to make a putt vice always pin hunting, it offers a better opportunity to sink longer putts because the more challenging breaks are mitigated. I realize it makes sense to most players, but to develop the proper course management strategy, some course knowledge is required to know which is the best place to aim when approaching any green.
Last Wednesday, I played 27 holes at Osprey Links Golf Course. On the 6th hole, the pin was placed on the crest of a gully that runs through the middle of the green. I will not discuss the fairness of the pin placement because at this time it is irrelevant. On our first attempts to hit into the green, we thought the pin was set on the back tier as per normal placements. However, with three of us sitting about 10 to 15 feet from the pin, we realized that we were definitely out of position. After two 3-putts and one 2-putt, we knew that the next time we played this hole, we would have to be on the other side.
Playing the 6th hole again during men’s night we remember the pin placement and all agreed that we needed to be short of the pin. After four approach shots, three of us were below the pin, and all putting for birdie. Only one shot was in the right position. Two of our putts broke about 3 feet on a 12 foot putt and the putt from above the hole finished 12 from the hole because it crested the apex of the gully. The only ball in the right position was directly below the hole about 12 feet away. The player putting lipped out, but by far it was the easiest putt of the group.
Selecting the proper line for your approach shot to be on the proper side of the hole for putting is very important. I think that having some course knowledge makes this important step to low golf scores easier. As demonstrated in my example above, even knowing the course does not always guarantee that I will pick the right aim point for my approach shot. But my intent was there and that shows that I was thinking about where I need to make my next putt from and that is the proper course management strategy.
Moving forward, I suggest that you think about where you want to putt from when making approach shots. When you do, I think you will reap rewards in the form of few putts and lower golf scores.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!