When you’re watching the U.S. Open on TV, it can be easy to just sit there and think about the 135 you’d probably shoot at Oakmont. But while you’re settling in for a weekend full of U.S. Open viewing, Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Jason Birnbaum of Manhattan Woods Golf Club says to keep an eye out for these things that you can apply to your game.
The first thing Birnbaum says you should look for is the fact that pros hit bad shots. “The guys will be struggling for sure under these conditions,” says Birnbaum. “So from a mindset standpoint that will be good for average golfers to see. People think pros are always playing great, so to witness them experiencing stress is good.” Everyone, even the best players in the world, hit bad shots. Maybe watching them hit a few bad ones will let you forgive yourself when you don’t hit it on target.
Secondly, Birnbaum says there’s a lot to learn from the style of U.S. Open golf. “They will be playing a more conservative style of golf. At Oakmont, par is an excellent score,” says Birnbaum. “Average golfers take too much risk on the course and it leads to high numbers. The safe play is usually best.” Look at what they’re hitting off the tee, and how they’re approaching pins. It’s OK – no, it’s smart – to put your driver away on a few holes, and hitting to the middle of the green is often way better than going straight for a pin.
Finally, you can learn a lot about scrambling. “Observing how they get out of trouble once they find themselves in a bad spot can be another good learning experience,” says Birnbaum. “The pros will undoubtedly find trouble this week on a setup like Oakmont. A flawless round of golf doesn't exist there, so seeing them escape it can be very helpful.” It’s always nice to hit good shots, but scoring is more about how you recover.
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