5 Pinehurst-centric shots you'll see players hit this week, and how you can play them
By Matthew Rudy
With its roughless, sandy framing, sea of pine straw and shaved green complexes, Pinehurst No. 2 has a radically different look than any other recent U.S. Open venue. That means you'll see tour players hitting a variety of less-common shots during championship. As the Pinehurst Golf Academy's director of instruction, top-50 teacher Eric Alpenfels has lots of experience both on No. 2 and hitting the shots Donald Ross' historical showpiece requires. Below, he'll talk about five of them -- playing from waste areas, putting from the fairway, the low-running chip, clearing high bunker lips and hitting from pine straw -- and show you how to pull them off yourself.
__Escaping waste areas__By far the most pre-tournament chatter has been about the striking sand-and-scrub transition areas lining the fairways. Miss a fairway and you won't find yourself in traditional six-inch U.S. Open rough, but a patchwork of sand and wispy native grass. You might have a decent lie, or you might be punching out. On a playable shot from the sandy surface, catching the ball first is the key.
__ Bump and run__If a short-game shot does have to leave the ground, you'll see a lot more European-style low chips into the face of the greenside slopes. The goal there is to pick a less-lofted club like a 6- or 7-iron and use the hill to deflect the speed. The ball will bounce up, then trickle toward the target.
__ Playing from pine straw__Getting into the tree lines at No. 2 means playing from pine straw and finding a path through the obstacles. Players will be using straighter-faced long irons to have a better chance to curve low shots out of trouble and follow the contour of the hole.