Bryson DeChambeau played a very solid final round thanks to shots like the one below and had a strong putting round. Bryson was able to birdie and grab the solo lead on the 10th hole to make a charge down the stretch, winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. This shot is a perfect example of a strategic club and shot selection resulting in a very makeable birdie putt.
At first glance, the shot may seem very routine. There wasn’t a hazard to carry and he was playing from an even lie in the fairway. However, that pin was hanging off the front of the green, just above a false front. Bryson’s calculated attack gave him a look a birdie from a range where the odds were in his favor while the majority of the field overshot the flag or spun back below the hole, leaving a longer putt or even chip.
Guaranteed birdies (for pros) instead of working for a par is how you find the winner’s circle on Tour! Let’s examine how you can apply the same type of strategy to your game and position yourself where solid execution results in stress-free looks at birdie.
Start by recognizing the safe side to miss. Is an uphill chip a better result of a misplayed shot versus lagging an icy downhill breaking putt? This information will help you decide which club to select since very rarely do even the best players land on the exact yardage for a stock swing and shot. Remember you need to be adjusting your approach so you adapt to the conditions of the course and hole placements.
Once you have decided your ideal play, either at or short of the hole or at and beyond the hole, adjust your setup accordingly. If my student is looking to take more club to carry a hazard or area of the green and play just beyond a hole location, I will encourage them to move the ball slightly forward. This is to create a higher trajectory that will land softer and be less likely to release far past the hole.
Conversely, when playing to either be pin-high or just short, moving the ball back slightly will lower our trajectory. This ball flight helps when the shorter play indeed lands too short of our target because the lower trajectory will be prone to bouncing forward before stopping as we saw Bryson’s shot skid forward on a lower trajectory before spinning next to the hole. Also, the back ball position can add some spin to get the ball to back up or spin if it flies too far.
Next, attacking a flag with more club than normal can be assisted by choking up on the grip, making the playing length shorter by a half inch to an inch. This not only will shorten the over distance the ball flies but is also a great way to lower your trajectory without having to change ball position.
All players, regardless of handicap and ability should be looking to vary the approach to get the ball as close as possible, not every shot in golf is a full shot. DeChambeau went on to win by one shot, and there we some very thrilling highlights during the round — namely a lengthy snaking eagle putt on the 16th. But with flawless execution, he was in a position to make the eagle putt count towards a victory, not just another top-10 finish.
Next time you are playing, identify the area you want to play the next shot from and select the club and swing motion that can get you pin high or on the right side to play next.