Ground Game

U.S. Open 2024: How to master the shot that won the 2014 U.S. Open


Ahead of the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, which demands golfers navigate their ball on and around the baked-out slopes, we're launching a daily Ground Game series. A slate of daily articles to help you better understand how to use the ground to your advantage.

At Pinehurst No. 2, you have to be precise with your approaches or the ball is likely to roll off into a collection area or worse. As discouraging as barely missing a green might be, don’t compound a tough break by following it with a low-percentage recovery shot.

When Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open by eight shots here in 2014, his strategy around the greens was simple and smart—putt everything possible. If your chipping game is erratic, consider a similar game plan.

To master the off-green putt, think of it as a normal putt, just longer with a few adjustments.


First, stand slightly wider than normal for better stability. Next, take a few practice swings focusing on a long, flowing stroke that doesn’t feel like you need any extra effort to get the ball onto the green. You don’t want to make a fast, jerky stroke that could cause a mis-hit. The emphasis should be on making solid contact so that the ball seems to roll up the slope effortlessly.


Leaning the shaft forward a touch will help you hit it solid and get the ball rolling quicker.

Another thing to remember is to read these putts just like if you were on the green. Factor dew, the firmness of the turf, the contours and the height and grain of the grass.

It’s never a bad idea to hit a few of these before you go out to play. Practice instills confidence. Just ask Martin.